The website 66.ru has published photographs and video from a farewell ceremony in Yekaterinburg for roughly 50 men leaving to fight in eastern Ukraine. In the video, friends and relatives see them off at the local train station.
Most of the men serving in Yekaterinburg’s volunteer unit are military veterans, and many have combat experience.
Vladimir Efimov, the head of the Foundation for Sverdlovsk Special Forces Veterans, announced earlier that volunteers are being sent to eastern Ukraine, saying they travel with Russia’s shipments of humanitarian aid. Their service won’t be unpaid, either. Efimov said common soldiers earn as much as 90,000 rubles ($1,500) a month, while officers can make up to 150,000 rubles ($2,500).
Officials in Moscow have repeatedly denied accusations that regular units of the Russian Army are active in eastern Ukraine, though the Kremlin has acknowledged that volunteers from Russia are fighting on the side of the separatists.