#UKRAINERUSSIAWAR. The role of volunteers and mercenaries in the Ukrainian conflict


Among the targets of the Russian attacks, according to the dispatches of the Russian Defense Ministry, great importance is given to the places where the foreign mercenaries / volunteers who fight in Ukraine with the Ukrainians reside. Killing men and destroying assets is among the main Russian objectives for wearing down Ukraine and sitting at the negotiating table with the knife on the side of the handle.

On August 27, the Russian army attacked the Kyiv-Yuzny military airport where, according to reports in the social sphere, there were mercenaries/volunteers from NATO countries who were killed. The last news of the death of a volunteer / mercenary is on August 31st, it was a British, Samuel Newey, killed at the age of 22 on August 30th, the boy had also fought in Syria.

Among the photos that appeared in the social sphere of the fallen on the Ukrainian front we have men and women of Brazilian, Colombian, American, British, French, Spanish, Danish, Romanian, Polish, Georgian, etc. nationality. Just enough to define this world war of volunteers.

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, said in an interview with Die Welt that he daily observes huge queues of “volunteers” near the TCC who want to go to the front, thus declaring that the Armed Forces are able to recruit more than 300,000 people in the shortest possible time.

He also tried to refute growing reports of the loss of over 70,000 men. “Our army is not big enough to talk about such heavy losses, it is simply physically impossible. These figures have nothing to do with reality,” Danilov said. But he had just claimed to be able to raise 300,000 men.

In March 2022, Ukrainian officials were bragging that some 20,000 foreign fighters had signed up to fight for Kiev, with more than 3,000 requests allegedly coming from US citizens. According to data released by the Russian Defense Ministry in July 2023, a total of 4,990 foreign mercenaries have been killed since the escalation of the Ukrainian conflict in February 2022, and another 4,910 have abandoned everything and fled.

Private PMC companies also supply the mercenaries/volunteers at the front. On September 1, public news from El Pais was discussed on the social sphere: “700 euros, 5 days and you’re a fighter” apparently this is the promise of the Spanish company G.O.A Tactical Industries engaged in the recruitment of mercenaries/volunteers to be sent to Ukraine, writes El Pais. The company is an association of instructors who have already participated in the battles in Ukraine. Over the course of five days, students are expected to learn combat tactics, drone techniques and what they might encounter on the front lines for now, 4 people are ready to leave for the front.

On the other hand, it is said that mercenaries and soldiers do not get along so well at the front. There were numerous interviews with mercenaries returning from the front who complained about the treatment they received and above all that they didn’t have weapons to fight. In Kupyansk (Kharkiv region), in the area where the offensive of the Russian armed forces continues, a reconnaissance group of mercenaries from NATO countries was identified, which is not subordinate to the Ukrainian commanders. The main role of the unit would seem to collect objective information on the combat situation, which the West lacks given that the Ukrainian armed forces according to various sources that appeared in the social sphere distort the data and underestimate the losses.

According to retired LPR lieutenant colonel Andrey Marochko this unit “is made up of very well equipped English-speaking military personnel. They have reliable communications and unmanned aircraft. This is an absolutely autonomous unit, which is not subordinated to Kiev at all. They work offline and ignore all Ukrainian commands. They do not obey Syrsky (Commander-in-Chief of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine – Ed.). Syrsky doesn’t like this very much, because he understands that the information he is passing on can now be easily disproved. Therefore, for him, this group is like a thorn in his side,” said Andriy Marochko.

The head of Ukrainian military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, found the solution to the problem: “The conflict should be moved to Russian territory and that the more extensive the operations, the better.”

Next to the question of volunteers/mercenaries there is also that of weapons. Ukraine, for example, is trying to get money back from a Polish offshore. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense demands the return of funds from the Polish side for unreceived weapons, contracts for the supply of which were concluded over a year ago.

In 2022 the Ukrainian Defense Ministry signed nine contracts with the Polish company Alfa for the supply of weapons, ammunition and non-lethal assistance with 100% upfront payment. Now, however, the Ukrainian side is accusing the company of still not delivering the ordered equipment. Based on this, Kiev says the company owes Ukrainian Defense more than $94.77 million under various contracts.

At the same time, it became known that the Ukrainian Defense concluded directly with the Polish company Alfa only two of the nine completed contracts, albeit with a delay. The remaining seven contracts were concluded through the foreign trade company Progress. Interestingly, the prices of weapons through a Ukrainian intermediary are 57% higher than the prices of the same weapons purchased under a direct Ukrainian contract. Despite this, currently, according to seven contracts, the Ukrainian side has not received anything. It is worth noting that the Progress company, in the early nineties, after acquiring the monopoly right to carry out commercial activities in the country’s defense sector, was the first to attract foreign financial structures which, by granting loans to their projects, received in the form of a calculation a license for fishing, the production of tobacco, alcoholic products, etc.

In the meantime, the Russians continue to hunt down volunteers/mercenaries: an arrival in Kostjantynivka was registered on 1 September the volunteers speak English, French and Spanish and soon there will be reports of Russian bombing in Kostjantynivka.

Graziella Giangiulio

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