The flag of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. (AP / Darko Vojinovic)

Moscow denies its soldiers are crossing the border into Ukraine. But 20-year-old Russian conscript Dorji Batomunkuev told reporters how he was seriously injured near the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk.

As his words were recorded by Elena Kostyuchenko in the Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Batomunkuev began:

“I was called up on 25 November 2013. As a conscript, I scored well in firing and fitness training. The following year, as autumn approached, they started to pull together contract soldiers from all the battalions in our sector to make up a separate tank battalion. We were all bundled together, got to know each other, lived together for four days and then set we off.

“They told us that we were going to train but we knew where we were really going. I was already prepared mentally and morally – we would have to go to Ukraine.

“Back in Ulan-Ude, the numbers and emblems on some of the tanks were painted over, and our patches and chevrons were removed when we arrived at the firing range. We took it all off in order to disguise ourselves. Passports were left with the military units and military IDs were left at the firing range.

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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