MOSCOW, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Russia has handed over a total of 63 Ukrainian soldiers who crossed the border into Russian last week in exchange for all the Russian paratroopers detained in Ukraine, a paratroop commander said Sunday.
"The negotiations were difficult. But common sense prevailed and everything ended well," said Major General Alexei Ragozin, deputy commander of the Russian Airborne Forces.
Ragozin said the Russian side had done everything for the soonest release of the servicemen.
"The relevant authorities just handed over 63 Ukrainian military men, who have crossed the border into Russian on Aug. 27," he said, adding that the soldiers were accommodated in a temporary camp where they received all needed assistance.
"Today, an aircraft of military transport aviation has brought the Ukrainian soldiers to the Belgorod airport, and they were taken by buses to the Nekhoteevka checkpoint to be handed over to the Ukrainian side," he said.
Ukraine's Security Council said Monday that it detained a group of armed Russian paratroopers in the east of the country near the border with Russia, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the servicemen were patrolling the border and could have ended up in Ukraine by accident, according to RIA Novosti.
Ukraine kept the Russian paratroopers for several days and even sent them to a detention facility in Kiev.
Ragozin said Ukraine's behavior over the incident was unacceptable considering the fact that hundreds of Ukrainian servicemen who happened to cross into Russia were given all-round assistance and immediately handed over to the Ukrainian side.
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"The European Council says that it stands ready to take further significant steps in the light of the evolution of the situation on the ground and it requests the (European) Commission to urgently take preparatory work and present proposals for consideration within a week," Van Rompuy said. Full Story
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