Donetsk, Jun 18 – DAN. DPR has identified Ukrainian army brigades with the highest number of defectors, said the head of the DPR Armed Forces press service Daniil Bezsonov.

"During the recent months (of the joint forces operation launched by Kiev in Donbass), 504 soldiers and officers defected from the Ukrainian army. In the same period during the so-called ATO operation (the format of the armed Kiev's operation which preceded the JFO) 420 gunmen left their units."

Bezsonov said the majority of defectors were listed with Ukrainian elite units: 119 defector incidents were reported by the 79th separate air assault brigade; 111 – by the 80th separate air assault brigade; 92 – by the 81st separate airborne brigade.

Ukraine has changed the official format of the armed operation in Donbass in accordance with the law on the region's re-integration. The joint forces operation was substituted for the so-called anti-terrorist operation to, as Ukrainian president Petr Poroshenko put it, "restructure the command so that the army command is vested with additional power and control" over the country's security service, police and the National Guard, which previously controlled nationalistic battalions. *ot