Approximately 16,000 “volunteer” foreign fighters assisting Russia in the war with Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a green light on Friday for foreign “volunteers” to head to the battlefields of eastern Ukraine to strengthen Russian troops in the war.

Putin said at a Security Council meeting, according to Russia’s state news agency, Tass, describes the move as “providing military aid to Donbus for free,” apparently to distinguish between volunteer fighters and paid mercenaries. Ukraine and Russia have exchanged accusations of sending mercenaries into conflict.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has come to areas dominated by pro-Russian separatists in Lugansk and Donetsk, mainly in the Middle East, and is part of “they believe in the liberation movement.”

The 16,000 figure reflects the number quoted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a few days ago when he announced that foreign “volunteers” would come to Ukraine to resist Russian troops.

“Ukraine has already greeted foreign volunteers. The first 16,000 are already underway to protect the freedom and life of us and everyone,” Zelensky said in a video posted on Facebook. increase.

Ukrainian law allows foreigners to voluntarily join the Ukrainian army and has incentives, including qualifications for Ukrainian citizenship. About 100 US citizens were allowed to join the Ukrainian army fighting Russia.

Epoch Times Photo
On March 5, 2022, two foreign fighters from the United Kingdom are ready to leave for the forefront of Lviv, Ukraine. (Kal Pfaffenbach / Reuters)

Putin accused the West of openly dispatching mercenaries to fight on the Kyiv government side in a statement to the Security Council.

“For mercenaries sent to Ukraine from all over the world, we can see that they are not hiding it. The Ukrainian government, the western sponsor of Ukraine, does not hide it, does it openly and does all of the international law. I’m ignoring the norms, “Putin said.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has accused Russia of including mercenaries from the “Wagner” group as part of it. Military uniform It is reportedly run by Putin’s associate Yvgeney Prigozhin to fight in Ukraine. Prigozhin has always refused to link to Wagner.

after that Report The British newspaper The Times claims that more than 400 Wagner-linked mercenaries have been sent to Kyiv following the Kremlin’s order to assassinate Zelensky.

There are reports of a surge in demand for private military contractors in connection with the war in Ukraine.

Robert Young Pelton, a Canadian-American writer and expert in a private military company Told the BBC There was a “market enthusiasm” for private military contractors to take on missions in Ukraine.

Tass also quoted Putin as Russia should help Russia meet its “volunteers” along the way and cover the costs of transporting them to the battlefield.

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

Tom Ojimek


Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communication, and adult education. The best writing advice he has ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark.