KEY POINTS

  • Syrian fighters are being recruited to help Russia secure the Ukrainian city of Kyiv
  • Mercenaries would be given between $200 to $300 to join the fight, says a report
  • Some Syrian fighters are already in Russia preparing to be deployed

The Russian government is now offering Syrians skilled in urban combat $300 to join in its fight in Ukraine, U.S. officials said.

An American assessment found that Moscow has begun recruiting Syrian fighters to join in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and help Kremlin secure Kyiv, the capital city. Mercenaries are being offered between $200 and $300 to go to Ukraine “as guards.” The contract would last six months, Deir Ezzor 24, a media outlet based in Syria, reported last week.

It is currently unclear how many Syrian mercenaries have been recruited or mobilized in Ukraine. However, a U.S. official familiar with the situation told The Wall Street Journal that some fighters are already in Russia preparing to be deployed.

Foreign fighters have also joined the conflict on behalf of Ukraine under “The International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine,” a new brigade created by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

"Anyone who wants to join the defense of Ukraine, Europe and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals," a statement on the presidential website said, referring to Zelensky’s creation of the new brigade.

As of Sunday, Ukrainian officials said the number of foreign applicants who have signed up to fight alongside Ukraine has reached nearly 20,000. The figures include at least 3,000 applications from U.S. citizens, according to The Washington Post.

“Experienced veterans and volunteers from 52 countries of the world come to us. This is their desire,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said at a news conference.

People who want to fight alongside Ukraine are required to submit documents “confirming military service or work with law enforcement agencies and participation in combat." People who can provide medical help are also welcome. However, people who want to join the fight but are untrained are not accepted.

Foreign volunteers would not be allowed to bring their own weapons. Anyone chosen to join the new brigade will be provided at least rifles. It is unclear whether they would be issued other types of weapons.

Ukrainian defense officials stress that all foreign fighters who want to join the fight would have to come voluntarily. They also emphasized that they are not hiring anyone to fight alongside Ukrainian troops.

US soldiers accompanied by members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) gather in Ghwayran area of Hasakeh city on January 29, 2022 during a search for escaped prisoners believed to be affiliated with IS
US soldiers accompanied by members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) gather in Ghwayran area of Hasakeh city on January 29, 2022 during a search for escaped prisoners believed to be affiliated with IS AFP
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