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'Putin. War': new report claims Russia heavily involved in east Ukraine conflict

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By Sarah Taylor  with Pavel Felgenhauer, Marina Ostrovskaya
'Putin. War': new report claims Russia heavily involved in east Ukraine conflict

Russia has a deep-rooted involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, a report started by murdered anti-Kremlin activist Boris Nemtsov claims.

‘Putin. War’

Finished by his allies in the Opposition, the 65-page document is entitled ‘Putin. War’. It suggests at least 220 Russian soldiers have died in battles in the neighbouring country over 12 months from May 2014.

Some 2,000 copies have been released.

Opposition leader and friend of Nemtsov, Ilya Yashin, co-authored the report.

“Huge political harm has been done to Russia as a result of the shady geopolitical enterprise started by Putin in eastern Ukraine,” he said as the dossier was launched. “The war with Ukraine is unannounced, foul and cynical. We’re paying for this with the lives of our compatriots, the economic crisis and political isolation.”

He added: “We cannot say that Nemtsov was killed over the preparation of this report, but we cannot rule it out.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the motive behind his murder remains unclear.

‘Nobody will ever admit it’

Military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer was sceptical about the future impact of the report. The writer for Russian paper Novaya Gazeta spoke to euronews’ Marina Ostrovskaya.

“Nobody will accept the report until the Tsar says ‘yes, we’re playing a part in the conflict in eastern Ukraine’ or if, in some years – and I don’t know when – somebody in authority publishes the results of an investigation which admits the truth about our war there,” he said.

Moscow denies its soldiers have fought in eastern Ukraine, claiming any Russian nationals engaged in warfare there are volunteers.

Felgenhauer said about 46 secret operations were carried out worldwide by the Soviet and Russian armies between 1946 and 2000.

“No one country in the world conducts so many secret operations – it’s just impossible in a democratic society. But here, it’s possible. Although nobody will ever admit it.”

The analyst claims material which could have been helpful in compiling the report was confiscated by a police investigation team. As such, he says, the finished product looks laconic and less passionate than it might otherwise have been.

He added: “basically, this report under the name of Boris Nemtsov will have very little, if any, effect on the Russian political scene, or on the Russian public.”

Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters he was unable to comment on the report, as he had not read it.