Killing of two Ukrainian soldiers may be political, German prosecutors say

BERLIN (Reuters) - German prosecutors on Monday said they were not ruling out a political motive as they investigated a Russian citizen arrested on suspicion of stabbing to death two convalescing Ukrainian soldiers over the weekend.

The soldiers - who had been recuperating in southern Germany - were found with serious stab wounds outside a shopping centre in the Bavarian town of Murnau am See on Saturday evening, according to police. One of them, aged 36, died at the scene, while the other, 23, succumbed to his wounds in hospital.

A 57-year-old Russian citizen was arrested in his home shortly after the act on suspicion of murder, police said.

Early indications suggest the three men had known each other.

"The motive for the crime is currently unclear, although a political motivation cannot be ruled out and is being investigated in all directions," the prosecutor general's office in Munich said as it took over the case.

Ukrainian consuls are clarifying information about the units in which the victims served and establishing contact with their families, the Ukrainian government said in a statement.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba instructed the consulate general in Munich to monitor the case and remain in contact with German law enforcement, it said.

A spokesperson for the German government declined to comment on the case earlier on Monday, saying that a police investigation was ongoing. The Russian embassy did not respond to a request for comment.

Residents in Murnau mourned the deaths, with flowers and Ukrainian flags adorning a makeshift memorial.

"This is horrible, this is horrible. To have this happen in Murnau, I've been living here for such a long time and have never experienced something like this," said Murnau resident Tivahna Kapanovic.

In a separate case, two German-Russian nationals were arrested in Germany in April on suspicion of plotting sabotage attacks, including on military facilities, in what officials called an effort to undermine military support for Ukraine.

(Reporting by Alexander Ratz, Andrey Sychev and Anastasiia Malenko, Writing by Friederike Heine and Matthias Williams, Editing by Miranda Murray and Tomasz Janowski)