Written by Lucas Leiroz, journalist, researcher at the Center for Geostrategic Studies, geopolitical consultant
The recruitment of foreign mercenaries has become commonplace for the Kiev regime. With its troops weakened and unable to replace casualties, Ukraine focuses on hiring foreign soldiers in its so-called “International Legion”. In response, eliminating foreign troops has become a priority for Moscow. Since mercenary practice is illegal, these soldiers are excluded from the norms established by the Geneva Conventions and other international agreements that impose limits on the military actions, which is why it is legitimate not only to attack them, but also to arrest and condemn them in court in case of capture.
Indeed, the constant arrival of mercenaries has already become a serious problem in Ukraine. The regime seems more and more interested in seeking an external source of human resources to continue fighting NATO’s proxy war against Russia. Ukraine does not have enough reserve forces to keep combating in the long term, as losses are heavy and continuous. Hence, Kiev seeks to recruit as many foreigners as possible, promising the mercenaries rewards such as high salaries and Ukrainian citizenship.
Often, these promises are not fulfilled, with soldiers being deceived and not receiving the pledged money. With its economy devastated by the consequences of the conflict and the state controlled by a complex network of corrupt officials, Ukraine is unable to pay the salaries of all troops, which results in defaults. Therefore, despite the number of mercenaries continuing to increase, there have been more and more rumors about conflicts of interest and internal disputes, with foreign soldiers refusing to risk their lives in some dangerous missions.
There are many different types of mercenaries in the Ukrainian troops, however most of them are characterized by a common aspect, which is the previous connection to extremist, racist, ultranationalist ideas and terrorist practices. Moscow has been working intensively to identify foreigners who have joined Kiev, which is why it is known that almost all pro-Ukraine militants are somehow linked to these ideologies in their home countries.
Radical Islamists, neo-Nazis, ultra-rightists and other similar groups are among the most sought after by Western intelligence to be recruited for service in Ukraine. These militants are easier to be indoctrinated to hate Russia and fight for Kiev, having even extra-economic motivations to participate in the conflict, since they really believe that fighting Russia is the “right thing to do”. They share the ideology of the post-Maidan Ukrainian state, becoming many times more radical than the Ukrainian soldiers themselves, who are forced to fight regardless of ideology.
In practice, it ends up creating a vicious cycle, as the West foments these anti-Russian and racist thoughts in society through the mainstream media. The dissemination of this mentality helps to form new neo-Nazi militants, who, in turn, are interested in fighting for Ukraine. Kiev’s Western sponsors, in the end, are helping to form an international mercenary network of fanatical anti-Russian soldiers willing to fight Moscow, both for the money and because they have been indoctrinated to do so.
To face this problem, Russia has adopted a clear strategy of eliminating foreign enemy soldiers. In the past, Russia has made it a priority to neutralize native Ukrainian mercenaries, those linked to neo-Nazi organizations such as the Azov Battalion. Although these extremist militias still exist, most of their troops have already been decimated and those who surrendered are imprisoned and being tried in court, given that mercenaries are not treated as prisoners of war, but as common criminals.
Having already destroyed many Ukrainian neo-Nazi regiments, the focus is now on eliminating foreign mercenaries of the “International Legion”. There are two reasons why Moscow is markedly targeting mercenaries. One is that it is necessary to somehow eliminate these soldiers to discourage the arrival of new mercenaries, since the constant flow of foreign “volunteers” prolongs the conflict by helping Kiev to replace its casualties.
The other reason is to destroy the worldwide network of mercenaries being formed by NATO. Moscow’s intelligence has data showing that NATO is monitoring the entire mercenary recruitment process, establishing a systematic process of transferring extremist militants from many countries to Ukraine. This means that NATO is creating a kind of “reserve army” at its disposal to deploy on battlefields around the world.
The problem seen by the Russians goes far beyond the Ukrainian issue. Just as these mercenaries are fighting in Ukraine today, in the future they could be deployed in the Sahel against pro-Russian African governments or in Taiwan to fight China. In the same vein, if new flanks against Russia emerge in countries like Georgia and Moldavia, NATO is also expected to send its mercenaries to kill Russians there. So, it is vital for Moscow that this international network be destroyed – and eliminating as many mercenaries as possible in Ukraine seems to be the only way to achieve this goal.
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