Mar 7, 2022 - World

Russian forces trying to recruit Syrian fighters to join Ukraine invasion

Residents in Irpin, Ukraine flee

People flee heavy fighting via a destroyed bridge as Russian forces entered the city on March 7 in Irpin, Ukraine. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Russian forces have begun trying to recruit Syrians to "sign up and fight in Ukraine," a senior U.S. defense official told reporters Monday.

What they're saying: "We believe that the reports are accurate that the Russians are trying to recruit Syrians, in particular, to sign up and fight in Ukraine," the defense official said.

  • "We find that noteworthy that [Putin] believes that he needs to rely on foreign fighters to supplement what is a very significant commitment of combat power inside Ukraine as it is," they added.
  • "We don't have an estimate on the numbers. ... It is not clear to us whether they've set a quota for that and what that would be or how many they've gotten so far. But we can corroborate reports that the Russians are trying to supplement their fighters with foreign fighters."

Why it matters: Russia's invasion plans appear to have stalled as Moscow's forces are believed to have made "minimal ground advances" in recent days, according to an intelligence update issued by the U.K. Ministry of Defence.

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