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Foreign Militants Fighting in Ukraine on Both Sides of Barricades

Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the proposal to attract foreign volunteers in order to support DPR and LPR forces in the Donbass region during his meeting with permanent members of the Russian Security Council.

“As for the gathering of mercenaries from all over the world and sending them to Ukraine, we see that they do not hide it, the Western sponsors of Ukraine, the Ukrainian regime, do not hide it, they do it openly, ignoring all norms of international law,” Putin said during the meeting.

The press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov explained such a decision with the idea of strengthening of the DPR and LPR People’s Militias.

There is also the Kremlin’s intention to show that there are those willing to fight along Russian forces against the Ukrainian nationalists, or more globally against the Western hegemony.

“In general, there is a flow of volunteers. There are mercenaries, a huge number of paid mercenaries who come to Ukraine to take part in hostilities against our (Russian) military. At the same time, applications are being received from volunteers who want to take part on a free basis in what, in their opinion, is actually a national liberation struggle,” the Kremlin spokesman said.

“This is what we are talking about. As the Western world welcomes the arrival of these motley mercenaries from different countries of the world, then there are volunteers from this side too. There are also volunteers who want to take part in this,” he added.

It was clarified that the matter is not about Russians, who would like to join the military, but mainly about those “who applied from the Middle East, including from Syria.”

Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu indicated that the conscription of about 16,000 foreign volunteers was planned.

The involvement of the foreign servicemen, including from Syria, in military activities in Ukraine may fasten the mopping-up operations in the currently blockaded cities, as they have the necessary experience after years of fighting against terrorists of all kinds in Syria.

At the same time, the Kremlin’s decision to deploy foreign militants on the Ukrainian battlefield may damage the Russian “military PR campaign”, as such a move may also be treated as indication that the Russian operations have stalled and new reinforcement is needed.

On the other hand, the Ukrainian side claimed that almost 20,000 foreign fighters from 52 countries had joined the fight against the “Russian aggressors”, according to the claims of the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba made a week ago.

In his turn, on March 3rd, President Zelenskiy threatened the Kremlin with ‘wide international support’ to Ukraine and added that about 16,000 of foreign volunteers have already arrived to Ukraine. However, the numbers are yet to be confirmed.

Ukrainian officials assure that their government is not hiring any private military contractors, but only accepts volunteers to its own foreign legion. The Kiev regime welcomed all experienced soldiers under the pretext of their willingness to protect liberal democratic values from Russian aggression.

“We would like to make a point by accepting these volunteers, allowing the world to show solidarity with us,” the official said.

Following the example of the French Foreign Legion which is part of the French Armed Forces, in accordance with the Article 47 of the First Additional Protocol of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, such “volunteers” de jure are not “mercenaries”. However, de facto the situation is different.

So far, the joining of the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine by the “volunteer” mercenaries from the following top democratic countries has been confirmed:

  • Colombia,
  • Brazil,
  • Mexico,
  • Venezuela,
  • Albania,
  • the United Kingdom,
  • France,
  • the United States,
  • Canada
  • Sweden,
  • Georgia,
  • the Baltic States,
  • Poland.

However, the exact numbers and names of the “brave fighters for democracy” who came to Ukraine remain classified.

According to some media reports that cited an anonymous representative of Kyiv’s embassy in Washington, about 3,000 Americans have joined Ukrainian forces.

In its turn, the French foreign ministry claimed that there were no permission granted for the members of the French Foreign Legion to go to Ukraine. 14 of its soldiers were prevented from travelling to Ukraine, but 25 Ukrainian-born troops had deserted.

However, anonymous military contractors from Europe said in an interview with the Middle East Eye that about 100 members of the French Foreign Legion have reached Ukraine.

“The French Legion told them that they shouldn’t take any identification with them and if they are caught, they didn’t have the permission to go,” the contractor said.

Among these volunteers there is a big number of military advisers who train the Ukrainian military on using the military equipment that has been transferred from their countries as a “humanitarian aid” for years and especially in the last months. There are experienced mercenaries employed by various paramilitary companies, as well as usual military enthusiasts.

They are actively recruited through the social networks and by various “nonprofit organizations” which are now promoted by the media worldwide.

The volunteers can simply go to any Ukrainian embassy to join the Ukrainian Foreign Legion.

A sharp increase of the Ukraine-related private military job offers has been observed.

“Many private companies based in the US and Europe run job advertisements for Ukraine with at least $1,000-2,000 daily payments and extra earnings,” the MEE reported citing the military contractors.

For example, the job site Silent Professionals specialized in private security and military contractors published a job offer from an unnamed “U.S. corporation” that needs multiple “extraction/protective agents” to conduct “part-time, covert, extraction/evacuation operations of individuals and families throughout the countryside and major cities of Ukraine.” The employees should gain between $1,000-$2,000 a day with a bonus, and there’s an emphasis on combat experience as a prerequisite.

A group of ex-military men who operate under the moniker Forward Observations Group (FOG) was also spotted in Ukraine, armed and ready for a fight, MEL magazine reported.

The group’s Facebook page and Instagram have been recently blockaded, but another profile shared by fans of FOG on social media shows the group, which also sells branded lifestyle gear, photography and artwork, as actively being on the ground in Kyiv.

(The user raoulduke_69, purportedly the account of FOG founder Derrick Bales, didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.)

Another source of “volunteers” for the Kiev regime and its allies are the war-torn countries in the Middle East, where numerous attempts to recruit experienced militants by the Ukrainian intelligence services, and their counterparts in the U.S. and Turkey have been reported.

On March 11, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq confirmed the arrival of members of NATO intelligence services from Hungary, Lithuania, Italy, Germany, Britain, to Iraq on March 9 in order to recruit mercenaries from Syria, Libya, Turkey, Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt, Jordanian, Israeli advisors specializing in street warfare and Iraqis, in particular from Sunni-majority areas.

The Iraqi Sabereen News channel revealed the attempts of Ukrainian authorities to recruit experienced Iraqi mercenaries on social media networks.

Agents of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) accompanied by officers from the Turkish intelligence reportedly visited Turkish-occupied areas in northern Syria and met with militants backed by Ankara on the 4th of February, on the eve of the Russian military operation in Ukraine.

Turkish intelligence officers met with the HTS leader, Abu Muhammad al-Jolani, who is classified on the international terrorist list, to discuss the acceleration of the process of transferring militants to fight in Ukraine.

The NATO is preparing to send terrorists trained in Syria to fight Russian forces in Ukraine, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) warned on March 4.

Turkey reportedly moved all the remaining militants in Nagorno-Karabakh to Ukraine.

Ukrainian authorities have been pressuring Tunisians detainees in the country into fighting against the Russian military, Tunisia’s Mosaique FM revealed on March 6.

Mercenaries are mainly engaged in sabotage and intelligence operations.

The foreign mercenaries, who are well experienced in street fighting and various terrorist tactics, will likely be used as the cannon fodder on the front lines, aimed at disruption of Russian forces.

Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that there were confirmed facts of attacks by gangs of mercenaries on the civilian population, as well as on Russian military doctors, who provided assistance to local residents in populated areas.

The Russian Defense Ministry has already warned that foreign mercenaries will not be taken in hostage, and at best they will be brought to criminal responsibility for the committed crimes.

On March 11, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko claimed that groups of foreign mercenaries were spotted along the border of Belarus in the area of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

“There are three points: they want to cut off the movement of Russian troops – to stab them in the back, as I said; secondly, they want to hit the positions of those troops that we have left from the Belarusian-Russian exercises; and they do not lose hope of dragging us into this carnage directly so that we bare the western section,” – the President of Belarus said.

“They are not that simple. And what they want to do in Chernobyl, we will have to figure out soon,” the Belarusian leader added.

Moscow has long warned about the foreign mercenaries deployed in Eastern Ukraine, before Russian forces entered the Ukrainian territory.

For example, in December, 2021, the Kremlin reported that “more than 120 U.S. mercenaries” were spotted in the Donbass region. They were allegedly stockpiling toxic chemical weapons.

During the years of war in Eastern Ukraine, Chechen militants have been very active in fighting the LPR and DPR forces.

The Dzhokhar Dudayev International Peacekeeping Battalion which was named after the first President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria has operated in Ukraine since mid-August 2014. Another Chechen battalion named after Sheikh Mansur was created soon after the first one was completed.

Today, Russia also has battle-hardened Chechen forces in its ranks who have been deployed to Ukraine.

The open deployment of military “volunteers” by the both warring sides in Ukraine indicates the complete failure of the current international law system.