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Ukrainian rebels find recruits in Moscow

Opportunities to join the fight in Ukraine are advertised freely at rallies and on the Internet.
By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   Aug. 7, 2014 at 3:22 PM
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MOSCOW, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- A recruiting office to join pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine is in Moscow, although the Russian government continues to deny a role in the conflict.

The U.S. State Dept. acknowledged the presence in Moscow of an organization dedicated to engaging those willing to fight, as well as to collecting funds and equipment.

The Donetsk People's Republic can be contacted by telephone or e-mail, although it currently has no street address. Offers with the slogan "Join Strelkov's Army," a reference to insurgent leader Igor Strelkov, are visible at Moscow rallies and on websites.

A page on the Russian social network VKontakte gives instructions about contacting those who can arrange for volunteers to fight in Ukraine, and support for the insurgency is strong in Russia, where the conflict is viewed as a battle against a pro-Western regime it considers hostile to Russian-speaking Ukrainian citizens.

"If weapons and aid are going into eastern Ukraine, then that cannot be happening without the approval of the Kremlin. Several different (factions) of the Kremlin might have their own policies, but one man approves this," said Alexander Konovalov of Moscow's Institute of Strategic Assessments, a reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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