UN finds a large number of foreign citizens fighting on the side of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine

A large number of foreigners have been in the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine for various reasons and with different motives. Human rights expert Patricia Arias, a member of the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries said at a briefing in Kiev that the representatives of the organization came to that conclusion as a result of their visit to Ukraine, as reported by Ukrinform.

"Motivation for taking part in the armed conflict in Ukraine is diverse. The Working Group received information that there are many mercenaries that fight because of ideological and political reasons, but others are fighting for financial reward. Some of the foreigners have a criminal record. Some information indicates that convicts were offered to choose between imprisonment and taking part in the conflict," Arias said.

According to Arias, the UN also found out that a large number of foreigners were recruited to participate in the armed groups through social networks and other Internet resources where the information about the conflict in Ukraine is distributed and contact information is provided.

Arias noted that the group arrived at these findings even without having the opportunity to look at a full picture of the activities of various armed groups from a legal point of view.

"The Working Group concluded that there are several types of foreigners involved in the conflict, from volunteers to mercenaries, from independent fighters to professional military," she said.

At the same time, according to Arias, the members of the working group think that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have not been taking sufficient measures to ensure that these mercenaries are held responsible for their illegal actions in the occupied territories. "We found that there were no investigations of specific mercenary crimes in Ukraine. Some fighters have been indirectly accused of violating the territorial integrity of Ukraine, of illegally entering the country, and of participation in the activities of militant groups and organizations, in illegal armed groups," she added.

The UN representatives were astonished by the human rights violations in the Donbas. "The Working Group urges the Government of Ukraine and the armed groups to comply with the obligations of international law on the protection of economic, political, social and cultural human rights," the expert added.

"The Working Group recommends the Government of Ukraine to make an action plan and a strategy to identify mercenary participation in the conflict in a framework of the Minsk protocols," Arias said.

  UN, Donbas, Ukraine

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