Russian strongman, Vladimir Putin has called for foreign volunteers to help fight against Ukrainian forces.
Speaking at a Russian security council meeting on Friday, March 11, he said those who wanted to volunteer to fight with Russia-backed forces should be allowed to.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said there were 16,000 volunteers in the Middle East ready to fight alongside Russia-backed forces and US officials believe they could include Syrians skilled in urban combat.
“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 told his defence minister.
Shoigu also proposed handing over captured Western anti-tank missile systems to Russian-backed rebel fighters in the breakaway Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in the Donbas region.
“Please do this,” Putin said.
Responding to Putin’s claims, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a video message, said “thugs from Syria” would be coming to kill people “in a foreign land”.
Meanwhile Ukraine has had an influx of foreign fighters coming to join in the fight against Russia.
Zelensky said recently that 16,000 foreigners had volunteered for the cause, part of what he called an “international legion”.
Putin’s televised security council meeting came as Russian forces in Ukraine began attacking new targets in different areas of the country:
An airfield and jet engine factory were targeted in Lutsk, in the north-west
Explosions also hit airfields at Ivano-Frankivsk, in the south-west, according to Russian defence officials.
In Dnipro, a major stronghold in central eastern Ukraine, one person was reported dead in air strikes.
Refugees totaling 2.5 million have now left Ukraine since the war started according to the United Nations.