Two dissident Russian military units said Sunday that they had captured two Russian soldiers in the Belgorod region and demanded a meeting with the local governor Vyacheslav Gladkov.
The Russian Volunteer Corps and the Freedom for Russia Legion, which are not officially part of Ukraine's military but fight under Ukrainian command, have made several recent incursions in Belgorod that have helped bring the war to Russian soil.
Gladkov responded to the groups' demand in a video message on his Telegram channel Sunday, saying he is prepared to talk to the units if the two soldiers they claim to have captured are still alive.
“The only thing that stops me from negotiating with them is our guys who are in their hands. Most likely they killed them, as hard as it is for me to say. But if they are alive, from 17:00 to 18:00 Shebekino International Automobile Checkpoint. I guarantee safety. That's it,” Gladkov said, apparently offering a meeting.
The head of the Wagner private military company, Yevgeny Prigozhin, claimed in a Telegram post Sunday that “he is ready to send one of his high-ranking deputies” to pick up captured Russian soldiers if no one comes to their rescue.
Prigozhin, who frequently needles the Kremlin establishment, challenged Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov to come to the soldiers' rescue as well.
Read more about the Russian fighters who have aligned with Ukraine here.