The war in Ukraine, following the Russian army’s invasion of the country, continues for the 16th day in a row. Today (Saturday) the BBC website reported how Russia is recruiting professional mercenaries to fight alongside it.
According to the report, the BBC was able to contact a mercenary, who served on behalf of Russia in Ukraine and agreed to share how he and his comrades were recruited. According to him, the recruiters focused on the veterans of the mercenaries, mainly from the Wagner mercenary group, which operates in secret because under international law and Russian law – it is forbidden to engage in the profession. Recruiters contacted Wagner personnel through private telegram groups several weeks before the fighting began.
The mercenaries were invited to a “picnic in Ukraine”, with recruiters even specifying that they would be served “salo” dishes – lard traditionally eaten in Ukraine. In the announcement, the recruiters mainly addressed “those with a criminal record, people with debt, professionals who were banned from taking part in a company of mercenaries or people without a foreign passport,” and asked them to apply. The recruiters, according to the report, also approached people from the Luhansk, Crimea and Donetsk regions and invited them to join their mercenary groups.
The mercenary who spoke about the recruitment process noted that the newly recruited were sent to units under the command of officers from the military intelligence unit of the Russian Ministry of Defense (GRU). The mercenary stressed that in the weeks before the war they had changed the recruitment policy for the unit and now there are fewer restrictions. According to him, he is not satisfied “with the professionalism of the new soldiers.” He further added that military personnel have changed the name and now Wagner units are no longer operating under the older name.
According to the report, the newly recruited are trained at Wagner’s bases in southern Russia, which are in close proximity to Russian military bases. In addition, the BBC reported that apart from the telegram, in Russia there was a widespread public campaign to recruit mercenaries, mainly through the social networking platform VK. For example, in the first week of fighting, a page described as belonging to a person with expertise in security activities published an ad calling on “security guards from the former Soviet Union to apply for placement ‘in neighboring countries’, when according to military experts Ukraine was meant.
Last night, the Russian Defense Minister said that 16,000 fighters from the Middle East had volunteered to fight alongside the Russian army. Russian President Vladimir Putin has even issued an order authorizing the fighters in question to deploy in the war zones. According to the report, so far 400 soldiers of the Wagner unit have been sent into Ukraine.
According to the testimony of the fighter who spoke to the BBC, he was stationed in Kharkov. According to him, the mission to which the unit was sent was carried out successfully, but he did not specify what they performed. He further said that for a month of participating in the fighting he received $ 2,100 and was then sent back to Russia.