Donetsk, April 1 - DAN. More than 500 servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces have surrendered to the forces of the DPR People's Militia since the beginning of the liberation operation, DPR Defence's deputy chief of staff Eduard Basurin said.

“Since the beginning of the special military operation, 513 servicemen of the armed forces of Ukraine have voluntarily defected to the Donetsk People’s Republic,” he said.

Basurin added that since the beginning of the day, seven servicemen have defected to the DPR.

Russia started a special military operation to denazify and demilitarize Ukraine on February 24. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the decision was made after the DPR and LPR Heads addressed him asking for help.

The Russian leader said that Moscow is not planning to occupy Ukrainian territory, the only goal is to protect people who have been continuously shelled and subjected to other forms of genocide by Ukraine for eight years.