An Israeli national has been taken prisoner by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, according to a video shared online Thursday by militants of the Luhansk People's Republic — a Moscow-backed breakaway region in Eastern Ukraine.
In the video, a man introduces himself in Russian as Vladimir Kozlovsky, an Israeli national residing in Ukraine who was conscripted into the Ukrainian army as a radio operator, as he showcases his Israeli ID card.
According to Kozlovsky, he and his wife attempted to flee the country when they met representatives from the Israeli consulate in the western city of Uzhhorod near the Slovakian border.
The 40-year-old said he was given a special document that would allow him to leave the country, but was stopped by Ukrainian border agents.
His wife and child were allowed to leave whereas he was conscripted into the Ukrainian army and was stationed near the city of Lysychansk in the Luhansk region in the eastern part of the country.
Kozlovsky said he was sent on a mission to transport personnel — likely soldiers — to a post when they came under heavy artillery fire.
They managed to retreat, but by the time they came back, Russian forces had been waiting for them. He says was unable to contact his commanders who were no longer there, according to the video.
"We had foreign weapon systems but we didn't know how to use them," he says in the video. "We were not trained to fight and nevertheless were sent to the battlefield. They didn't tell us we were going to fight either. We thought we'd stay in Western Ukraine, but we were deployed to Lysychansk. We were thrown to the battleground like cannon fodder."
"We've received messages from the Russians saying we'll be better off if we surrendered. The soldiers also discussed this before, but commanders tried to prevent these talks. They told us that if we surrendered, the Russians would torture us to death, so it is better not to be taken alive."
In response to the incident, the Foreign Ministry said it was aware of the case and was handling it.