Why is Russia encouraging foreign fighters to join the Ukraine conflict?

By Charles Opara

On March 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin backed a plan to recruit “eager foreign volunteer fighters” to join his forces in Ukraine and “help the people who live in the Donbas.”

According to Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, 16,000 troops are ready to assist Russia in combat, which is bad news for Ukrainians.

While Putin did not mention the Middle East, observers believe Russia is looking for hardened fighters in Syria.

Moscow and Damascus have a close relationship, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is indebted to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who intervened in the civil war in 2014 and aided his survival.

While information on military developments, whether from Russian or Ukrainian sources, is untrustworthy,

As the war escalates, the threat of mercenaries becomes more serious.

According to Wyn Rees, professor of international security at the University of Nottingham, non-state actors are already fighting in Ukraine.

“Putin is pursuing a two-pronged strategy.” On the one hand, he engages in negotiations, while on the other, he increases military pressure. “It was widely reported that Russian special forces and former military personnel were inserted into Ukraine to disrupt defense and target Ukrainian leaders,” he told Al Jazeera.

Pro-Russian troops are seen atop tanks on the outskirts of Mariupol, the besieged southern port city.

In addition to the regular Russian army, intelligence officials in Kyiv say Moscow is using members of the notoriously private security firm the Wagner Group in Ukraine. Chechen fighters loyal to Russia are also fighting Ukrainian forces.

“Wagner are primarily

ex-military personnel who now work as paid specialist operatives “Such people have the advantage of being able to deny their involvement to the Russian government,” Rees explained.

According to Jenny Mathers, senior lecturer in international politics at Aberystwyth University, deniability is critical because groups like Wagner violate Russian law.

“In Russia, private military companies are illegal. The Wagner Group is thought to recruit from former Russian soldiers and has close ties to [Russian military intelligence].

“Russian private military companies frequently serve as security guards or train other armed forces as well as combatants,” she explained.

Russia is said to have used the Wagner Group when it entered the Syrian conflict.

“Mercenaries generally operate outside the constraints of conventional warfare and are motivated primarily by financial gain, and the Geneva Convention does not apply to them.”

ex-military personnel who now work as paid specialist operatives “Such people have the advantage of being able to deny their involvement to the Russian government,” Rees explained.

According to Jenny Mathers, senior lecturer in international politics at Aberystwyth University, deniability is critical because groups like Wagner violate Russian law.

“In Russia, private military companies are illegal. The Wagner Group is thought to recruit from former Russian soldiers and has close ties to [Russian military intelligence].

“Russian private military companies frequently serve as security guards or train other armed forces as well as combatants,” she explained.

Russia is said to have used the Wagner Group when it entered the Syrian conflict.

“Mercenaries generally operate outside the constraints of conventional warfare and are motivated primarily by financial gain, and the Geneva Convention does not apply to them.”

would be reimbursed

And, given Syria’s deplorable economic situation after 11 years of war, recruitment from Syria should be simple.

“Since the Russian army has previously used mercenaries and private security firms in Syria and Libya, it is likely that similar strategies are and will be used in Ukraine as well.” “Putin has also agreed to allow Syrian fighters with urban combat experience to join the Donbas rebels,” Nitoiu added.

According to Nitoiu, the influx of foreigners supporting Ukraine – estimated at 40,000 to 100,000 – may have prompted the Kremlin to employ similar tactics.

“The presence of mercenaries can only muddy the military situation because they are less likely to follow conventional military rules.”

military fortifications “Both the Ukrainian and Russian armies would struggle to control the movement and actions of mercenary groups,” he said.

“The widespread presence of mercenaries also indicates that both parties are preparing for a long, drawn-out military conflict in which urban and guerrilla tactics will be crucial.” “Ukraine is the loser in this situation, because mercenaries operate with impunity and can engage in large-scale destruction with little thought,” Nitoiu added. In the future, mercenaries may have an impact on Ukraine’s post-war reality.

“Mercenaries pose a real risk of refusing to demobilize and blackmailing the Ukrainian government after the conflict between Kyiv and Moscow is over,” Nitoiu warned.

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