Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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Russia lures foreigners with citizenship if they fight in Ukraine, hires mercenaries, convicts

Meanwhile, the international community has slammed plans by separatist regions in Ukraine to hold referendums, calling it an attempt to divert attention from Russia’s battle reversals.

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New Delhi: Russia will hire foreigners in its defence sectors, the mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin has announced, as the capital city prepares to open the first recruitment centre in the country.

“The Moscow government will deploy a full-fledged infrastructure in Sakharovo (migration centre) to assist the Russian Defense Ministry in the recruitment of foreign citizens into the military service,” Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said.

In the seventh month of the invasion, Russia faces significant battle reversals in Ukraine, beaten out of the east in recent weeks.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian lawmakers passed a bill that makes it easier for foreigners to get citizenship provided they signed a one-year contract with the army.

In another development, Russia has started recruiting mercenaries — some of them may be convicts — to bolster its frontline in the Ukraine invasion.

According to the United States, Russia may have lost nearly 80,000 personnel, prompting President Vladimir Putin to turn to the army of mercenaries, known as the Wagner group, the CNN reported.

The Wagner group is allegedly run by a man called Yevgeny Prigozhin. The report said a man of his likeness recently appeared in a prison yard, urging prisoners to join his group and fight in the frontline.

Meanwhile, the international community has slammed the attempt by Kremlin-backed authorities in Ukraine’s occupied areas to hold referendums on joining Russia.

Regions in the east and south – Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – plan referendums later this month.

The Russian-backed, self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and neighbouring Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said the referendums would be held from 23 to 27 September.

Addressing Vladimir Putin, DPR head Denish Pushilin put up a post Tuesday, saying: “I ask you, as soon as possible, in the event of a positive decision in the referendum — which we have no doubt about — to consider the DPR becoming a part of Russia.”

He added the “long-suffering people of the Donbas have earned the right to be part of the great country that they always considered their motherland”.

Russia reacted briskly to these announcements, with former president Dmitri Medvedev publicly endorsing the referendums in the self-declared Donbas republics. “Not one future leader of Russia, not one official will be able to reverse these decisions,” he added.

Ukraine condemned these declarations, saying “fake plebiscites” would not change the “administrative-territorial structure and internationally recognized borders of Ukraine”. The Foreign Ministry said the vote attempted to give “forced citizenship” to residents and said it was “another attempt of Russia to legitimise the consequences of its aggressive war against Ukraine”.

On the other hand, the US Pentagon called the referendums an “information operation” that is “meant to distract from the difficult state that the Russian military currently finds itself in”.

Also read: Four implications of a Russian defeat in Ukraine—one affects India the most


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