ZURICH — Several thousand Muslim Chechen fighters are reportedly assembling on the edges of Kiev. Hundreds are believed to have fought in Mariupol. Syrian volunteers, filmed last week holding assault rifles, Russian flags, and chanting pro-Kremlin slogans, are en route to the Ukrainian frontline. Syrians are also part of Ukraine’s foreign legion to fight against Russia. There, they join some 20,000 foreign volunteers, including an estimated 3,000 Americans.
There is a certain logic to these deployments. The number of Russian casualties has been high. As many as 10,000 Russian servicemen have been killed since the invasion began. That would put Russian casualties in one month at more than the entire American losses in 20 years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Vladimir Putin could soon run out of men for his war machine.
Moscow now says that up to 16,000 Syrians are on the way, all ostensibly skilled in urban combat. On some reports, Syrians who join the frontlines will each receive $1,100 from the Russian government — a pricey sum, if they’re lucky. They are also entitled to $7,700 in case of injuries. It’s unclear whether they will be paid in rubles.
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