More than a dozen Russian military units linked by media reports to the fighting in eastern Ukraine have refused to disclose their casualty figures for 2013-14, while one that provided the data showed a rise in soldier deaths from zero to six, a news report said Thursday.
The St. Petersburg branch of the Soldiers' Mothers Committee — an organization that defends conscripts' rights — sent requests to military units that soldiers' families and media reports had identified as suffering losses last year, including in eastern Ukraine, the Vedomosti business daily reported Thursday, citing the group's spokesman Alexander Peredruk.
A total of 17 units have responded so far — with all but one refusing to disclose their casualty data, the report said.
The one unit that provided information said it had lost six soldiers since July 2014 compared to no casualties a year earlier, according to Vedomosti. The report did not identify the unit nor specify how many soldiers it comprised.
Kiev and Western governments have accused Russia of supplying fighters and modern weapons to separatists in eastern Ukraine. Moscow denies the accusations, claiming that all Russian fighters in Ukraine are "volunteers."
The military units cited various reasons for their refusal to provide casualty data to the Soldiers' Mothers Committee, from saying the information constituted a state secret, to directing inquiries to higher military command, Vedomosti reported.