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Russian Soldier Killed After Deserting Military Base

Russian authorities on Wednesday announced having killed a soldier who left his military base, with state media identifying the man as an armed deserter from fighting in Ukraine.

"Dmitry Perov, wanted for the unauthorized abandonment of his military unit, was found and liquidated," the government of the Lipetsk region in western Russia said on social media.

"The situation is under control," it said. "There is no threat to residents. Investigations are under way."

It did not say how the man was killed.

A local branch of the state VGTRK television network said the man was 31 years old and had fled "the zone of the special military operation" — Moscow's term for its offensive in Ukraine.

It published a search notice that said he fled Ukraine on Jan. 13 armed with a rifle and grenades, and that he could be headed for his native village.

There have been several cases of desertion among Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine in recent months.

The Kommersant newspaper reported Wednesday that eight servicemen who refused to fight in Ukraine have been charged with desertion. 

According to the paper, the soldiers had left a base in eastern Ukraine at the end of December and were able to return to Russia by taxi.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a mobilization of 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine in September, he also hardened laws on desertion, introducing punishments of up to 10 years in prison for deserting or refusing to fight. 

Thousands of Russians fled the country after the mobilization announcement to avoid being drafted. 

Putin sent troops to Ukraine in February last year.

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