NGOs as well as Ukraine’s diplomats are searching internationally for soldiers of fortune to fight against Russia, Moscow says
Several NATO member states are ‘quietly’ supporting Kiev’s efforts to sign up foreign mercenaries to fight in the ongoing conflict with Moscow, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday.
“Russia is closely monitoring the recruitment of foreign citizens carried out by the Ukrainian authorities with the quite support of some NATO countries to conduct warfare in eastern Ukraine on the side of the Kiev regime,” Vladimir Tarabrin, who heads the department of new challenges and threats at the ministry, told RIA Novosti news agency.
Tarabrin also alleged that NGOs, as well as Ukrainian diplomatic missions overseas, are involved in hiring mercenaries, adding that such actions by Kiev are a violation of international agreements, including the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
Thousands of foreign fighters have responded to a call by President Vladimir Zelensky and flocked to Ukraine since the launch of Russia’s military operation on February 24.
According to Moscow, almost 7,000 “mercenaries” have arrived in Ukraine since the outbreak of the conflict, with the largest numbers coming from Poland (1,831 people), Canada (601), the US (530), Romania (504) and the UK (422).
Last month, the Russian Defense Ministry said only 2,741 of those foreign individuals were still fighting, with many of them killed or returned home.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov recently warned that mercenaries are not considered soldiers under international law and “the best thing that awaits them if they are captured alive is a trial and maximum prison terms.”
In July, a spokesman for the International Legion, a body of foreign volunteers integrated into the Ukrainian militarily, complained about “a gradual dip in the number of arrivals over the course of the last few months,” blaming the decline on “Russian disinformation.”
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