Ukraine informed Italian authorities at least 30 Italians are fighting against Ukraine's army / Photo from UNIAN

A court in Italy has handed prison terms to three men found guilty of fighting alongside Russia-backed forces in eastern Ukraine, local media report.

The reports said that a Genoa court sentenced a 35-year-old Italian national, Antonio Cataldo, and a 39-year-old Albania-born man, Olsi Krutani, to two years and eight months each, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty said.

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A 26-year-old Moldovan man, Vladimir Vrbitchii, was handed a prison sentence of one year and four months, they said.

The court concluded that the three men were mercenaries who received 300-400 euros ($340-450) per month to fight alongside Russia-backed forces holding parts of Ukraine's Luhansk and Donetsk regions in 2017-18.

Cataldo, Krutani, and Vrbitchii were arrested in Italy last year after investigators in the northwestern region of Liguria uncovered a group of recruiters for separatist groups in eastern Ukraine.

In April 2018, Ukraine's embassy in Rome said it had informed the Italian authorities that there were at least 30 Italians fighting against Kyiv's forces in eastern Ukraine.

Some 13,000 people have been killed since the conflict started in April 2014.