Russian President Vladimir Putin was reported to have approved plans to recruit 16,000 fighters from the Middle East, mainly Syria to participate in the war in Ukraine.
“If you see that there are people who want of their own accord — not for money — to come to help … then we need to give them what they want and help them get to the conflict zone,” Putin told Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu at a security council meeting in Moscow.
However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country was battling an enemy “who collects reservists and conscripts from all over Russia to throw them into the hell of war, who came up with the idea of bringing in mercenaries against our people, thugs from Syria.”
“Where’s the powerful Russian army if they can’t get by without Syrians?.
“If they want us to kill the 16,000 Syrians, let them come,” he said.
Zelensky said Ukraine had “already reached a strategic turning point” in the conflict. “It is impossible to say how many days we still have to free Ukrainian land. But we can say we will do it,” he said.