Putin Plans to Use Middle Eastern Volunteer Fighters – Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a plan for as many as 16,000 volunteer fighters from the Middle East to be deployed to Ukraine to assist Russian forces invading the country. It comes as Putin’s forces struggle to continue the momentum of their invasion as Ukrainians fight back using tens of thousands of NATO-supplied missiles, rockets, and weapons.
Volunteers to Help Take Control of Donbass
During a Russian Security Council meeting, Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu announced that 16,0000 volunteers from Middle Eastern countries were preparing to fight alongside Russia-backed soldiers in the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.
President Putin confirmed that he would allow the volunteers to take part, not claiming that he needed the help but instead suggesting that he was giving the volunteers “what they want.”
“If you see that there are these people who want of their own accord, not for money, to come to help the people living in Donbass, then we need to give them what they want and help them get to the conflict zone,” Putin said.
Putin also urged Russian soldiers in Ukraine to hand over NATO-supplied Javelin missiles – designed to destroy tanks – to Russian-back forces in Donetsk and Luhansk.
“As to the delivery of arms, especially Western-made ones which have fallen into the hands of the Russian army – of course, I support the possibility of giving these to the military units of the Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics,” Putin added.
“Thugs From Syria” Means Putin Is Desperate?
In a video message, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded to the news that Middle Eastern soldiers were coming to his country to fight, calling them “thugs from Syria” coming to kill innocent people “in a foreign land.”
Zelenskyy also acknowledged some 16,000 of his own foreign soldiers, coming from the United Kingdom and other European countries, forming what he described as an “international legion” of soldiers. Among those coming to fight in Syria were former British army personnel who have since retired.
In a Twitter post, Zelenskyy said warned Syrian President Assad against allowing his soldiers to come to Ukraine.
“If Assad’s regime begins sending troops to Ukraine, they’ll be no more than cannon fodder in a battle and environment that’s completely alien to them,” he said.
However, it remains uncertain whether Syrians are being recruited by the Syrian government or the army to leave for Ukraine.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and report on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.