July 24, 2024

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Putin recruits soldiers in Africa for war in Ukraine

Putin recruits soldiers in Africa for war in Ukraine

With an extensive recruitment campaign of foreigners, Russia is trying to find replacements for its soldiers killed in Ukraine. The use of Africans in Wagner’s successor army offers several advantages to the Kremlin.

Bhojan Stula / ch Media

At a press conference in Kyiv on March 15, mercenaries, including Somali Adil, tell of their fate.Build: Keystone

As early as 2022, Russia began recruiting men from Africa for its war of aggression. In recent weeks, however, the commitment of these mercenaries against Ukraine has taken on new proportions. A video interview of a Somali prisoner of war shared on social media recently sheds light on the background.

Adil, a prisoner of war posing as a 28-year-old IT student from the capital Mogadishu, tells how he was sent to the frontline in Ukraine by Russian recruiters under false pretenses. Earlier, his military training lasted only a few weeks.

Without clear instructions from the authorities, the first days ahead were “the worst of his life”. The Somali, who originally came to Russia as a laborer on a tourist visa, was attracted by several recruitment posters in Russia. The prospect of a Russian passport and a high monthly salary promised a “king-like” life.

Now, after his capture by Ukrainian troops, he has called on his African compatriots not to enter Russian military service. It’s not worth risking your life and health.

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High salary and Russian passport for you and your family

Although his call, distributed by the Ukrainian military, was based on propaganda purposes, the Somali’s statement is consistent with other information from recent times. Various sources describe how Russia has stepped up its propaganda activities at home and abroad to compensate for the terrible losses caused by recent offensive operations.

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As the American news agency “Bloomberg” reported a week ago, the Kremlin forced thousands of guest workers and foreign students to serve in the army. A substantial material compensation was also promised for signing the military agreement.

According to a report by Ukrainian military intelligence, Russia promised new recruits a $2,000 bonus and a $2,200 monthly salary, several times the typical Russian wage. The military contract comes with free health insurance and Russian passports for the mercenary and his family.

If such conditions are already attractive to the approximately 35,000 African students in Russia, they are even more attractive in Africa. If Ukrainian military intelligence is to be believed, Russian recruitment efforts are currently in full swing, particularly in Rwanda, Burundi, Congo and Uganda.

Released from actual missions in Africa

Earlier this year, “Bloomberg” reported how the Kremlin had set a goal of recruiting 20,000 soldiers to its “Africa Corps,” which emerged from the disbanded Wagner mercenary force. The goal of this new mercenary force is to advance Russia’s military and economic interests in Burkina Faso, Libya, Mali, the Central African Republic and Niger.

Now part of it, if not all of the Afrika Korps, appears to have been transferred to the Ukrainian front to compensate for losses there. In late May, the British Ministry of Defense wrote that related units had been spotted in the Volsansk region, northeast of Kharkiv.

According to this information, the Africans will be deployed on the front lines in costly attacks alongside Russian Z stormtroopers. The unit identified in the attack on Kharkiv comprises more than 2,000 officers and soldiers and reports directly to the Russian Ministry of Defense. Many of them already had combat experience as Wagner mercenaries in Syria, Libya, Burkina Faso and Niger.

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British analysts see it as “certain” that Putin’s Africa Corps has been freed from its original mission in Africa since this April to be deployed to the Ukrainian front. At the same time, Ukrainian officials recently reported that a significant number of prisoners of war were foreigners, particularly Africans and Nepalese.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a leading Russian opposition politician, denounces the use of African mercenaries in war as a “modern form of slavery”. If these “dispensable” soldiers die in front of the Russians, the Kremlin will have several advantages: not only will the authorities have no problem with the bereaved families, but it will also be financially useful for the state treasury.

According to Khodorkovsky, the Russian government has so far owed $1.2 billion in widows’ and orphans’ pensions to surviving relatives of slain Wagner mercenaries. On the other hand, if African and Asian mercenaries are killed at the front, their family members will come up empty-handed.

2 years of the war in Ukraine in 34 pictures

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2 years of the war in Ukraine in 34 pictures

Occupied by its neighbors, Ukraine struggles to survive. In this photo series, we look back at the events since the invasion of Russia.

quelle: Keystone / Bo Amstrup

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