Putin says Russia will welcome volunteers from the Middle East to fight Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with government officials via video link in Moscow, Russia March 10, 2022. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

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LONDON, March 11 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday gave the green light to send thousands of fighters from the Middle East to fight Ukraine.

At a meeting of the Russian Security Council, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said there were 16,000 volunteers in the Middle East ready to come and fight with Russian-backed forces in the breakaway region of Donbass, in eastern Ukraine.

“If you see that there are those people who want voluntarily, not for money, to come and help the people of Donbass, then we have to give them what they want and help them get to the conflict zone,” Putin said. noted.

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Shoigu also proposed that Western-made Javelin and Stinger missiles captured by the Russian military in Ukraine be handed over to Donbass forces.

“As for the delivery of weapons, especially those of Western manufacture that fell into the hands of the Russian army – of course I support the possibility of giving them to the military units of the people’s republics of Lugansk and Donetsk” , Putin said.

“Please do it,” he told Shoigu.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 shortly after Putin recognized the breakaway territories as independent states, in an action internationally condemned as illegal.

Russia says its ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine was a forced response to what it calls genocide by Ukraine against Russian-speakers in the country’s east – a pretext dismissed by Kiev and the West as propaganda baseless war.

Shoigu said the Russian military planned to reinforce its western border after what he said was an increase in western military units on the Russian border.

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Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Alex Richardson

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