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Russia arrests Ukrainian officers

By Victoria Butenko and Dana Ford, CNN
updated 8:33 PM EDT, Fri August 8, 2014
Ukrainian servicemen walk past an armored personnel carrier in the village of Peski, Ukraine, on Wednesday, November 19. Fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels in the country has left more than 4,000 people dead since mid-April, <a href='http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/media.aspx?IsMediaPage=true' target='_blank'>according to the United Nations.</a> Ukrainian servicemen walk past an armored personnel carrier in the village of Peski, Ukraine, on Wednesday, November 19. Fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels in the country has left more than 4,000 people dead since mid-April, according to the United Nations.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The officers are reportedly suspected of bombing civilians, shelling Russia
  • They are wrongly accused, according to Ukraine's official Ukrinform news agency
  • The ongoing fighting has killed close to 1,400 people -- civilians and combatants

(CNN) -- A Russian court authorized Friday the arrest of five Ukrainian servicemen on what the state-run RIA Novosti news agency described as suspicion of war crimes.

The officers are suspected of bombing civilians in Donetsk and shelling Russian territory, the agency reported.

According to Ukraine's official Ukrinform news agency, the officers are wrongly accused.

Russia has denied allegations that it is supporting separatists in Ukraine and maintains it wants to see a diplomatic solution to the crisis. But U.S. and Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of saying one thing while doing another: building up troops along the border and continuing to send support to pro-Russian separatists.

Earlier this month, a group of soldiers was forced to retreat to Russia after they ran out of ammunition, Ukrinform reported. Most were sent back to Kiev; however the five officers were held for the alleged shelling of Russian territory, the agency said.

The ongoing fighting has killed close to 1,400 people -- civilians and combatants -- and more than 4,000 people have been wounded in eastern Ukraine since mid-April, according to U.N. officials. The battles also have forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes and seek shelter either elsewhere in Ukraine or across the border in Russia.

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Nick Paton Walsh, Jason Hanna and Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.

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