"Serb volunteers fend off Ukrainian army attack"
A group of Serb volunteers Tuesday said they "repelled an offensive of pro-Kiev military forces, who attempted overnight to break through to a vital highway."Source: B92, Ria novosti
RIA Novosti noted in its report that the volunteers are "helping the Donetsk militia to fight government troops in eastern Ukraine."
“Two tanks, belonging to the neo-Bandera (thugs), and one self-propelled gun together with their crews, as well a mountain gun, were destroyed during the fight,” the press office of the Donetsk self-defense forces cited the Serbs as saying.
According to the report, two Serbs were lightly wounded during the standoff, and soon re-joined their battalion.
Reports claiming that volunteers from the Jovan Sevic militia battalion were fighting in the breakaway self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic, or DPR, started emerging as early as in May "when a group of Serbs first arrived in the then besieged city of Slaviansk near Donetsk," the news agency said, and explained that the battalion was named "in honor of the leader of a Serbian hussar cavalry regiment who in 1751 swore allegiance to the Russian Empire and established the autonomy of Slavo-Serbia, a province that constituted the territories of present-day Luhansk and Donetsk regions in Ukraine."
The number of Serb volunteers is "unknown" - "but the media claim they have been able to identify the commander as Bratislav Zivkovic."
RIA further reported that "rumor has it that Igor Strelkov, who leads the DPR self-defense forces, knew the Serbian regiment back from the days when they all fought in the Bosnian war, an international armed conflict that took place between 1992 and 1995 and resulted in the internal partition of Bosnia-Herzegovina."
Several Spanish and Czech volunteers have also reportedly joined the eastern Ukrainian militia, "who are striving to fend off the onslaught of heavily-armed government troops."
The news agency recently carried an article about the increasing number of mercenaries from western countries who were fighting in eastern Ukraine, "most of them on Kiev's side," and quoted one of the leaders of the self-proclaimed Luhansk Republic as saying they were "no longer hiding their presence."
According RIA, Russian officials on several occasions asked Sweden, Finland, France and the Baltic countries to investigate reports that their citizens were fighting in Ukraine.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying there was suspicion that American mercenaries were helping the Ukrainian army.