The Croatian military attaché in Moscow on Thursday refused to accept a note from the Russian Defence Ministry over the alleged arrival of "200 Croatian mercenaries" in Ukraine.
Military attaché Zeljko Akrap was summoned to the Russian Defence Ministry so that he could be informed that there are, according to the Ministry, some 200 Croatian mercenaries in Ukraine.
“The past week alone, about 200 mercenaries from Croatia arrived through Poland and joined one of the battalions of nationalists in southeastern Ukraine,” Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said as carried by the Interfax and TASS agencies.
Akrap answered that neither the Croatian Defence Ministry nor any other institution in Croatia are in any way connected with individuals possibly staying in Ukraine and that they do not have any information in that regard, the Croatian Defence Ministry said on Thursday.
The military attaché therefore refused to accept the note, the ministry added.
The military attaché of the Croatian embassy in Moscow was summoned to Russia’s Defense Ministry on Thursday and told, in particular, that the Russian side was aware of the mercenaries’ arrival, Konashenkov said.
The military attaché was told about the illegal activity of Croatian national Denis Seler who had participated in combat operations in southeastern Ukraine in 2015 and is now setting up groups of Croatian mercenaries for sending them to Ukraine, the spokesman added.
Seler, a former leader of the Dinamo Zagreb Football Club ultras Bad Blue Boys, who fought for six years in Ukraine in the Azov Battalion, dismissed the Russians’ accusations in an interview with the Croatian Index news portal.
Russia previously issued a warning to foreigners planning to fight against Russian forces in Ukraine, saying that mercenaries from other countries in Ukraine will not receive prisoner-of-war status and will be subject to criminal liability if captured.
“I want to officially emphasize that all mercenaries sent by the West to help the Kyiv nationalist regime are not combatants under international humanitarian law. They are not entitled to POW status,” Konashenkov told a briefing on Thursday.
More than 1,000 foreigners have so far joined Ukrainian forces against Russia, according to Ukrainian sources.