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UK intel: Russia likely expanding recruitment across Global South to sustain war in Ukraine

Russia is intensifying efforts to recruit Africans, offering money and citizenship to replenish forces in Ukraine, amid domestic mobilization challenges, reports UK Defense Ministry.
uk intel russia likely expanding recruitment across global south sustain war ukraine african mercenary ranks russian army somewhere screenshot telegram/dambiev african-mercenary
An African mercenary in the ranks of the Russian army somewhere in Ukraine. Screenshot: Telegram/Dambiev.
UK intel: Russia likely expanding recruitment across Global South to sustain war in Ukraine

According to the UK Defense Ministry’s latest intelligence update, Russia is significantly increasing its recruitment efforts in Africa to support its military operations in Ukraine, focusing on Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, and Uganda to enlist fighters. The expansion of recruitment across Global South is aimed at replenishing military losses in Ukraine, while avoiding mobilization in Russia, as per the Ministry.

The Ministry wrote:

  • On 28 May 2024, Ukraine’s Defence Intelligence (HUR) reported that Russia has intensified attempts to recruit Africans to fight in Ukraine. In particular these recruitment efforts focus on the central African countries of Rwanda, Burundi, Congo and Uganda. Russia is reportedly offering a sign-up bonus of $2,000, monthly pay of $2,200 and the promise of a Russian passport.
  • This recruitment campaign is likely to replace Russian battlefield losses, which are significant, and to sustain offensive activity in multiple axes across the front. With Russia’s finite pool of convict recruitment likely culminated, Russia is likely expanding its recruitment across the global south, to avoid additional mobilisations within Russia itself. As well as being domestically unpopular for President Putin and the Russian government, the previous mobilisation for the war resulted in a record labour shortage and an exodus of skilled workers such as doctors and IT professionals.

Earlier, referring to unnamed European officials, Bloomberg reported that the Kremlin has coerced thousands of migrants and foreign students to bolster Russian forces in their offensive in Kharkiv Oblast. Russian officials have increasingly threatened not to renew the visas of African students and young workers unless they enlist in the military, while also recruiting convicts and detaining some Africans on work visas, offering them a choice between deportation or military service, although some have bribed officials to avoid enlistment, as per the Bloomberg sources.

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