Ukraine’s Prosecutor General confirmed on Wednesday 12 August that his office has requested the extradition of 28 suspected Russian mercenaries detained last month in Belarus on charges of terrorism. It is reported that the request was first made in the course of a telephone conversation between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko last week. The detainees who are allegedly contracted to Russian private security firm Wagner are accused of providing support to Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The Ukrainian separatist movement is classed as a terror group by Ukraine’s government and if extradited, the 28 would face criminal charges in connection with their alleged involvement with the movement. Russia has criticised the arrests and called for the release of the contractors. Former Russian President and current Chair of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev called the move “not only offensive, it’s very sad” and warned ”it will entail very sad consequences, too”.