The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has said that thousands of Syrians have volunteered to travel to Ukraine and fight for Russia. The SOHR said that a notice had been sent to the Al-Qatarji militia informing them they were able to sign up to fight. The group had previously been sanctioned by the US for acting as an intermediary between the Assad regime and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
An aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mykhailo Podolyak said: “Russia is hiring ISIS.”
The recruits are reportedly being paid between $1,500 and $2,500 for their services, the SOHR said.
However, the figures have not yet been confirmed.
This came after Putin said that foreign volunteers who wanted to support Russia in Ukraine should be allowed to.
Speaking to Russia’s security council, he said: “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.”
But Mr Zelensky described the Syrian recruits as “thugs”.
Thousands of foreign volunteers have signed up to support the Ukrainian army, which is much smaller than Putin’s military.
Former White House national security adviser H. R. McMaster said that Putin was becoming increasingly “desperate”, adding that Putin is “in real trouble”.
Mr McMaster told CBS News: “What you’re seeing is that Russia is really getting desperate — not only with this action to try to interdict the supply routes, but also with trying to lay the groundwork for, maybe, the use of chemical weapons, which is concerning.”
“This is a real sign of weakness.
“I think Russia — and Putin, in particular — is in real trouble.”
General Ben Hodges, a former commander of the US Army in Europe, added: “I think that they [the Russians] are running out of time, ammunition and manpower.
“I based my assessment on open source information and my own experience, so of course I could be off… but I think I won’t be too far off.
He claimed that there are “reports of low morale, dissension between commanders, mutiny on at least one vessel, desertion etc. — all within the first two weeks.”
These, he said, were “indicators of major manpower problems” for Russian forces.
Russian forces have so far failed to take control of Kyiv, despite their military superiority.
The US military has estimated that between 5,000 and 6,000 Russian soldiers have been killed.
But Ukrainian armed forces say that the number is more than 12,000.
So far, 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the conflict.