Russia's Defense Ministry reports the successful missile strike has neutralized over 250 mercenaries
Over 200 foreign mercenaries have reportedly been killed in a missile strike in southern Ukraine, Russia's Ministry of Defense reported on Tuesday. The statement also added that over 20 units of military equipment were also destroyed during the attack.
In its daily briefing on Telegram, the ministry reported that Russian Aerospace Forces delivered a blow to a temporary deployment point of the Ukrainian 'foreign legion' near the city of Nikolaev, using high-precision weapons. As a result, up to 250 foreign mercenaries were eliminated, according to the report.
Russia also claims to have neutralized up to 500 nationalist fighters in the Kharkov region via high-precision strikes, as well as "a significant amount" of military equipment.
Last week, Russia also claimed to have killed over 40 foreign mercenaries, most of whom were Polish citizens, after a missile strike on a temporary deployment point near Konstantinovka in the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR). The week before that, the Russian military claimed it had killed up to 250 such soldiers in the same settlement.
Kiev's international military unit was created in late February at the request of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, and is officially known as the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine. In April, the Russian military estimated their numbers at almost 7,000.
However, an updated estimate provided by the Russian defense ministry earlier this month suggests that only about 2,700 of these soldiers remain in Ukraine. Many of them were eliminated while others fled abroad, some complaining about disorder in the ranks of the Ukrainian forces and about poor equipment.
Moscow has repeatedly warned that it will not view foreign mercenaries in Ukraine as combatants as defined by the Geneva Convention and that "the best thing that awaits them if they are captured alive is a trial and maximum prison terms."
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev's failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev's main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and "create powerful armed forces."
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.