Russia to bring Libyan, Serbian mercenaries to Ukraine - Ukrainian sources

Russia is reportedly paying foreign mercenaries a monthly salary of $300-600 to fight in Ukraine, and had approved recruitment of 16,000 Middle East volunteers.

 SYRIAN ARMY soldiers pose in Deraa al-Balad, this week. (photo credit: SANA/REUTERS)
SYRIAN ARMY soldiers pose in Deraa al-Balad, this week.
(photo credit: SANA/REUTERS)

Russia is training and preparing to bring Libyan and Serbian mercinaries to fight in Ukraine, in addition to the Syrian mercenaries it is already enlisting, the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine (GUR) and the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces claimed in separate statements on Sunday. 

"According to the available information, a large number of militants from other countries are involved (Syria, Serbia)," claimed the Ukrainian Armed Forces. 

"It also confirmed the information about Russia's training of mercenaries from Libya to engage in hostilities in Ukraine," asserted the Ukrainian Intelligence Directorate.

Ukrainian intelligence expanded on previous reports about the recruitment of Syrian mercenaries. They claimed that Russia had opened 14 mercenary recruitment centers in Damascus, Aleppo, Hamma, Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. After training, the mercenaries are expected to be transported through the Khmeimim and then Chkalovsky air bases by two  Tu-134 and one Tu-154 aircraft.

Russia is paying foreign mercenaries a monthly salary of $300-600 to fight. 

 A service member of pro-Russian troops stands inside a residential building in Volnovakha (credit: REUTERS) A service member of pro-Russian troops stands inside a residential building in Volnovakha (credit: REUTERS)

"The Syrians are expected to use heavy artillery and sniper weapons against the Ukrainians," said the Intelligence Directorate.

Russian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also warned pro-Russian foreign fighters on Sunday, writing "I warn foreign nationals who might be agitated to join Russian invasion forces: don’t. We have already launched cases in international courts. Even if you survive, you will be a war criminal. Not worth money or anything else."

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the green light for up to 16,000 volunteers from the Middle East.

"We know many of [these volunteers], they helped in the fight against ISIS during the last 10 years," Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a meeting of Russia's Security Council, according to TASS."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 Donbas, then we need to give them what they want and help them get to the conflict zone," Putin said.

On Tuesday, it was also alleged that Russia is hiring Russian mercenaries from the private military company Wagner.

"Russia is conducting covert mobilization, forbade the fighters to terminate contracts and plans to transfer up to a thousand militants from the private military company "League", formerly Wagner, to Kyiv," The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine claimed.

Ukraine has also been recruiting foreign fighters during the war. 

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Monday that 20,000 foreign fighters had already applied to enlist into the foreign legion. GUR said that the volunteers were from 52 different countries, and were "mostly experienced fighters who have participated in many peacekeeping campaigns around the world." 

A website to guide foreign fighters to enlist with the International Defense Legion of Ukraine was launched last Saturday night by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. 

A foreign fighter special forces unit, separate from the International Defense Legion of Ukraine, was announced by the intelligence directorate on Monday. 

The special forces unit, as of yet unnamed by the Defense Ministry, is already operational and in combat with Russian forces, the ministry claimed.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report incorrectly referred to the nationality of those living in Nagorno-Karabakh as Azeri. Further, the Ukrainian military appears to have been referring to Russian troops stationed in the territory, not to further mercenaries as they initially appeared to have been saying.