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Media: Russia plans to boost recruitment of Serbs to battle against Ukraine

Whistleblowers shed light on Russia’s plan to recruit hundreds of Serbs into its ranks for combat in Ukraine, revealing Moscow’s intent to bolster its diminishing military forces.
Serbian Chetnik mercenaries in Crimea in mid-March 2014, who reportedly “In Sevastopol the Serbs took over the watch at a checkpoint at the entrance to the city” amid then unfolding occupation of the Ukraine’s peninsula by Russia. Photo via InformNapalm.
Media: Russia plans to boost recruitment of Serbs to battle against Ukraine

Whistleblowers and leaked plans suggest that Russia is actively recruiting Serbs and plans to draft hundreds more to bolster its military forces fighting against Ukraine, The Guardian reports. This comes amid Russia’s all-out war in Ukraine that has depleted Moscow’s troops after 1.5 years of combat.

“Based on accounts provided by two Serbian fighters who travelled to Russia, as well as a leaked list of recruited Serbs, the Guardian found that Russian officials appear to have made plans to recruit hundreds of Serbian nationals to bolster the army,” The Guardian wrote.

Such moves are seen as part of Russia’s broader strategy, marked by introducing laws to lure foreign citizens to join its ranks. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin endorsed enlisting foreign fighters to support Russia’s cause in Ukraine.

Serbia, which has been in the EU accession process since 2012, finds itself in a precarious position. Historically, close ties with Russia are juxtaposed against the nation’s European aspirations. Russia’s war in Ukraine has only exacerbated these tensions, with many Serbs showing sympathy towards Moscow. Pro-Russian sentiments particularly resonate among Serbia’s ultra-nationalist factions.

“While the number of Serbs recruited so far does not appear to be significant enough to make a tangible difference on the battlefield, Moscow’s actions risk straining its relationship with Serbia, one of its few allies in the west,” The Guardia wrote.

In 2017, four years into the Russo-Ukrainian war, Ukraine’s Security Service claimed that some 300 Serbian mercenaries were fighting alongside Russians against Ukraine in the Donbas region.

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