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Outside 331 Paratroopers Regiment, in the Russian city of Kostroma, mothers, wives and relatives wait for news of their loved ones - Russian servicemen said to be detained in Ukraine.
© Reuters/Scanpix

"The wives are asking, 'how did they get to Ukraine?', and they said they got lost. I think 350 people cannot just get lost," says Valeria Sokolova, wife of a Russian serviceman.

Earlier this week, Ukraine released video of what it said were captured Russian soldiers.

This, as Russia continues to deny sending its troops into Ukraine to help an insurgency by pro-Moscow separatists.

"It's highly likely that on Sunday all of your husbands will call you the phone," a Russian military official says. "I'll tell you why: They will all return on Saturday to the camp in military vehicles from the field. They will service the vehicles, wash them, go to the bath themselves. They will get new clean underwear, and on Sunday they will eat something. And quietly in their free time, they will talk to their mothers and loved ones."

The Russian Defence Ministry says accounts of Russian military units operating in Ukraine bear "no relation to reality".

But two members of Russian President Vladimir Putin's human rights council - citing eyewitness accounts and relatives - say that, on 13 August, over 100 Russian soldiers were killed in a battle inside Ukraine.

Distressing news for these mothers and wives, who likely left regiment 331 with more questions than answers.

Reuters