'Russia decided to hire mercenaries from Syria against our citizens': Zelenskyy to EU

AFP , Friday 11 Mar 2022

Zelenskyy has accused Moscow of hiring "murderers" from war-torn Syria to fight on its side in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Thursday, March 10, 2022. AP

"It's a war with a very stubborn enemy... who has decided to hire mercenaries against our citizens. Murderers from Syria, a country where everything has been destroyed... like they are doing here to us," he said.

The Kremlin said Friday that fighters from Syria and the Middle East would be allowed to fight for Russia in Ukraine after President Vladimir Putin backed a plan to send volunteers to battle there.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said if the West was "so enthusiastic about the arrival of mercenaries" then they too had "volunteers who want to participate".

Russia has been a key partner to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the 11-year Syrian civil war, rallying to his side in 2015 and helping him with its air power to gain the upper hand in the conflict.

Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said more than 16,000 volunteers -- mostly from the Middle East -- have applied to join the offensive in Ukraine.

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