In Serbia, Citizens Recruited Into the Russian Army To Replenish Personnel Depleted After 18 Months of War in Ukraine
In Serbia, citizens are being recruited into the armed forces of the Russian Federation to replenish their personnel, depleted after 18 months of combat in Ukraine.
This is reported by The Guardian.
Since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the Kremlin has passed several laws aimed at involving foreign nationals in its military ranks. During a national security meeting held after the attack on Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the Kremlin should aid foreigners who plan to fight on Russia's side. Since then, Putin has signed orders to reduce the minimum term of military service for foreign contract soldiers from five years to one and offered an expedited recruitment process for foreign combatants.
Davor Savičić, a Serb who fought for the first Russian unit that entered Ukrainian territory in 2014, has taken the lead in this recruitment plan, seemingly developed during the summer. Savičić is also connected to the Wagner Group, a paramilitary organization with ties to Russia. Journalists obtained a recording of Savičić's meeting with undisclosed officials in Moscow, where he expressed his intention to recruit up to a thousand Serbian citizens, forming a battalion within the 106th Airborne Division.
"We currently have 60-70 people," said one Serbian who arrived in Moscow in September, adding that he had joined the "106th Airborne Division."
Serbia, a candidate for EU membership since 2012, balances its historically close ties with Moscow and its aspiration to integrate into Europe. Tensions within the country have increased due to the war in Ukraine, with many Serbs sympathizing with Russia's actions.
Serbian Minister of Defence Miloš Vučević has warned Serbs against joining the ranks of the Russian army. Since then, more than two dozen Serbian nationalists have faced criminal charges. Although the number of recruited Serbs is not yet significant enough to noticeably affect the course of the conflict, Moscow's actions may strain relations with Serbia, one of its few allies in the Western world.
As reported by The Gaze, the Director of Serbia's intelligence service, Aleksandar Vulin, faced U.S. sanctions for aiding illicit arms shipments across Serbia's borders and providing Russia with a "platform for further detrimental influence in the region."
It is worth noting that last week, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) unanimously recognized Putin as a dictator and his regime as a dictatorship.