German journalist Nils Metzger said that Russian President Vladimir Putin used foreign fighters in the invasion of Ukraine because he did not want to lose the internal popular front as a result of human losses among soldiers and reserve forces.
Wagner increased his efforts to recruit veterans due to the invasion and relaxed the requirements, so that non-Russian citizenship or a criminal record was no longer an exclusion criteria.
Metzger wrote to the German channel “ZDF” that Russia is waging a war in Ukraine for which it was not prepared, which exposed it to huge human and logistical losses, and therefore it is urgently looking for new soldiers to push them onto the battlefield. , especially those whose assassination will not lead to a reversal of the public mood in Russia against Putin.
Why does Putin need these forces?
On paper, the Russian armed forces number more than 1 million active soldiers and almost 2 million reservists.
Metzger said that the Russian president “cannot count on them freely, since the combat forces are only a part of the armed forces. The war can only continue if it is successful and the logistical and medical services continue”, adding that ” shifting depleted forces after a few weeks into the war, and relying on conscripts and reservists will make the war less popular.”
And late last week, the Russian Defense Ministry admitted sending new recruits to Ukraine. But the Russian president said in a reassuring letter: “I assure that the conscripts will not participate in combat operations and they will not. There will also be no further call-ups for reservists.”
On the annual Recruitment Day on April 1, more than 100,000 Russian conscripts will begin their service. Therefore, its use in the Ukraine war “would have a high political price for the Russian president.”
Metzger explained that it was these gaps that the fighters from Syria and Chechnya began to fill.
For the supply of its forces, Moscow depends on Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and his army, one of Putin’s most important loyalists, and his fighters known as “Kadyrovtsy” are active mainly near the Ukrainian capital, kyiv.
“There are no reliable figures on the number of Chechen fighters in Ukraine. But given that Kadyrov’s army is estimated to number 70,000 fighters, there are certainly more new fighters,” said Margaret Klein, a researcher on Eastern European affairs at the Institute German Science and Policy channel said at the disposal of Russia.
He explained that the participation of the Kadyrovtsy army in the war is part of Kadyrov’s relationship with the Kremlin. In exchange for Moscow’s military and political loyalty, the Chechen president enjoys wide freedom of action in his country.
And Klein claimed that “the Kadyrovtsy forces have been formally integrated into the Russian military and security structures recently, but in reality they are only subordinate to the Chechen president, to whom they are pledged with personal loyalty.”
“The deployment of Kadyrovtsy’s forces in Ukraine is part of a psychological war because they are known for their brutality,” he said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad owes many services to his Russian counterpart. Since 2015, Russia has been supporting the Damascus government in fighting various militias, including ISIS.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that 16,000 volunteers, mostly from Middle Eastern countries, have registered to fight alongside Russia.
The Russian Defense Ministry also distributed propaganda images of Syrian government forces at a pro-Russian meeting.
The chief editor of the German magazine “Zenith”, Daniel Gerlach, told the channel that “the programs broadcast about Syrians representing paramilitary groups, who were ordered to raise Russian flags and photos of Putin, are mainly propaganda programs.” .
Gerlach added that “the vast majority of young Syrians in government areas do not want to go back to war, and the claim that Syrian volunteers are experts in urban warfare and are recruiting for it is a false claim.”
“The Syrian armed forces did not have a good record of fighting in the cities and had to enlist the help of Hezbollah and Iranian-led paramilitary forces to fight the insurgency at home,” he added.
In this context, he said, “the recruitment of Syrian fighters will not be particularly important.”
Metzger suggested that Russian mercenary companies could play a larger role in the Ukraine war. According to a British Times investigation, more than 400 mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner company have already been deployed to specifically kill Ukrainian politicians.
According to Western news reports, “Wagner increased his efforts to recruit veterans because of the invasion and relaxed the requirements so that non-Russian citizenship or a criminal record was no longer an exclusion criteria.”