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Ukraine’s president seeks Lukashenko’s cooperation to extradite suspected Russian mercenaries to Kyiv

During a telephone conversation with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (Alyaksandr Lukashenka), Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky discussed the 33 suspected Russian mercenaries arrested in Belarus. 

According to the Ukrainian president’s official website, Zelensky raised the question of extraditing the arrested Russian nationals to Ukraine over their alleged involvement in the war in the country’s Donbas region.

“I hope that everyone suspected of terrorist activities on Ukraine’s territory will be handed over to us for criminal prosecution under existing international legal instruments,” Zelensky said during the conversation.

Spokespeople for the Belarusian president said that according to Lukashenko, Belarus’ law enforcement agencies are prepared to cooperate on this issue within the framework of existing agreements with Russia and Ukraine.

After the arrest of the suspected Russian mercenaries from the “Wagner” private military company (PMC) in Belarus, Minsk asked Kyiv to investigate their potential involvement in crimes on Ukrainian territory. Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council said that they would seek to extradite the arrested mercenaries to Ukraine.

After Belarusian state media released a list of the suspected Russian mercenaries, Russian writer Zakhar Prilepin told the press that there were “two or three” former combatants among the arrestees, who fought in his battalion on the side of the Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. According to the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, at least three of the arrested Russian nationals fought in Ukraine’s Donbas war, while seven others fought in Syria. 

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