Reports from Slavyansk say that the army troops sent to the eastern Ukrainian city for an “anti-terrorist operation” are leaving en masse. Some troops are openly voicing support for the eastern Ukrainians, while others are speaking out against a war.
According to Interfax, citing local self-defense activists, some 300 Ukrainian troops agreed to lay down their weapons and “go home” following negotiations in Slavyansk.
“We managed to negotiate with them. About 300 military, only some of those who closed around the city decided to lay down their arms and go home,” a self-defense activist was quoted as saying.
Conflicting reports are emerging about whether the activists would or would not allow the troops to keep their weapons and APCs. According to Western media journalists present at the scene, the locals would not allow them to take back the APCs surrendered earlier, but the soldiers were allowed to march away with their rifles.
The people cheered the troops as they started leaving Slavyansk.
Meanwhile, the anti-government activists guarding the armored vehicles have said that they did not “seize” them as the media claimed, and that the troops “switched sides” peacefully.
“They were not seized by the self-defense forces. In fact, the Ukrainian troops arrived here flying a Russian flag. In this way, they have taken the side of the people,” a Slavyansk activist told Russia-24 TV.
Photos from the scene now show women and children climbing onto the APCs and taking photos with the armed men in camouflage with St. George ribbons.
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