Ukrainian soldiers, National Guard troops, border control officers, and state security agency operatives are among about 7 thousand men believed to be either missing or held in Russian captivity, said Oleg Kotenko whose agency oversees the cases of Ukrainians gone missing in the war.
Overall, the official hotline got 7200 reports of forced disappearances, said Kotenko, arguing the Ukrainian Armed Forces had at least 2 thousand documented cases of the troops going AWOL.
What can be confusing for disappearance reporting is that Ukraine is different chains of command for Ukraine’s military units with Azov Battalion being a good point in case – as part of National Guards, it remains subordinate to Ukraine’s interior ministry. Now many of Azov troops are alleged to be missing as they are incommunicado after they ceded the Azov steelwork site to Russians.
Oleg Kotenko said that the most of those missing soldiers are most probably held captives by Russian occupational forces. Among those are soldiers of 1st battalion of 36th Marines’ brigade, who were secreted away to Russia.
‘First of all, it is important to figure out how many people are there. If there are more than one hundred, then we will have an understanding it is virtually all their unit being held captive. We are having no communications with them, and they are believed to be missing. Sooner or later, they will be listed for prisoners’ exchange and will come back home. This is the case when we know for sure that the missing [guys] are alive,’ explained Kotenko.