MOSCOW (AA) – The Russian Defense Ministry accused the West on Thursday of sending mercenaries to Ukraine to support the Ukrainian armed forces.
At a daily briefing in Moscow, ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the employees of private military companies raid Russia’s military convoy, attack aviation, using US Javelin and UK NLOW anti-tank missiles and a man-portable air-defense system Stinger, and other weapons, supplied by the West.
Meanwhile, Konashenkov said the US intelligence launched a mass campaign to recruit more mercenaries.
Great Britain, Denmark, Latvia, Poland, and Croatia legally authorized their citizens to take part in the hostilities in Ukraine, while France plans to send ethnic Ukrainians serving in its foreign legion to Ukraine as well, he continued.
“According to Zelenskyy, about 16,000 foreign mercenaries are expected to arrive in Ukraine in addition to those already available to compensate for the crushing military failures of the Ukrainian security forces. A visa-free regime is officially introduced for them,” he noted.
Konashenkov warned that mercenaries cannot pretend for the status of prisoners of war, “the best thing that awaits foreign mercenaries when detained is criminal prosecution.”
Since Feb. 24 — days after Russian recognition of two separatist-held enclaves in eastern Ukraine — Russia’s war on Ukraine has been met by an outcry from the international community, with the EU, UK, and US implementing a range of economic sanctions against Russia.
Russia has been further isolated after its planes have been barred from flying in European and Canadian airspace, and a number of its banks have been kicked out of the SWIFT international banking system.