- Vladimir Putin ordered volunteer fighters should be brought into Ukraine.
- Putin told Shoigu that Russia should help would-be volunteers to “move to the combat zone”
- Since 2015, Russian forces have backed Syrian President al-Assad against various opposition groups
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered that so-called volunteer fighters should be brought into Ukraine.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia knew of 'more than 16,000 applications' from countries in the Middle East, many of them from people who he said helped Russia against the Islamic State group, according to a Kremlin transcript.
They want “to take part in what they consider a liberation movement,” Shoigu said, on the side of Russia-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine. Since 2015, Russian forces have backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against various groups opposed to his rule, including Islamic State.
Putin told Shoigu that Russia should help would-be volunteers to “move to the combat zone” and contrasted them with what he called foreign “mercenaries” fighting for Ukraine.
Earlier, British defense officials accused Russia of rearranging its forces on the ground in Ukraine in an attempt to push forward its struggling invasion plan.
The Ministry of Defence says that “Russia is likely seeking to reset and re-posture its forces for renewed offensive activity in the coming days. This will probably include operations against the capital Kyiv.”
Meanwhile, two Ukrainian servicemen were killed and six people wounded in Russian airstrikes on the Lutsk military airfield, according to the head of the surrounding Volyn region, Yuriy Pohulyayko. The strikes were far to the west from the main Russian offensive and could indicate new direction of the war.