A group of European military observers have arrived in Berlin, following their release by pro-Russian separatists who had held them for eight days in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk.
An international gathering of defence ministers waiting at the foot of their plane at Berlin’s Tegel airport, greeted the four Germans, a Czech, a Dane and a Pole.
In a speech on the tarmac, Axel Schneider, the leader of the team, which is linked to the OSCE, offered what he called “a huge and heartfelt thank you for the efforts made for us.
“I will not forget this for as long as I live and neither will my soldiers who were there with me.”
The separatists accused the observers of being NATO spies.
Separatist leader in Slovyansk, self-proclaimed “people’s mayor” Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, said that they were freed along with
five Ukrainian captives, with no conditions.
“As I promised them, we celebrated my birthday yesterday and they left,” he said.
.A Swedish observer had already been released on health grounds.