Terrorists Set for Deployment in Donbass Were Trained at US Al-Tanf Base, Russian Intelligence Warns
15:22 GMT 04.03.2022 (Updated: 17:35 GMT 04.03.2022)
Russia launched a special operation in Ukraine on 24 February with a stated goal to demilitarise and de-Nazify the country. President Vladimir Putin authorised the op following a request for help from the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics, which have faced increasing bombardments by Kiev.
NATO countries are sending terrorist fighters to Ukraine, Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service warned on Friday.
"The intelligence services of NATO countries are transferring foreign terrorist fighters to Ukraine... the US and UK intelligence services in recent weeks have de facto turned Polish territory into a 'logistical hub' used to supply weapons and smuggle fighters, including from the Middle East, to Ukraine," the statement read.
According to the intelligence service, the terrorists, who are to be deployed to Donbass, were trained at the US-controlled Al-Tanf military base in Syria.
"At the end of 2021, the Americans released from prisons… several dozen Daesh terrorists, including citizens of Russia and CIS countries. These individuals were sent to the US-controlled Al-Tanf base, where they have undergone special training in subversive and terrorist warfare methods with a focus on the Donbass region," the statement added.
The intelligence service said that most of the Daesh* terrorists trained in Syria for deployment in Donbass were destroyed during Russia's special military operation in Ukraine.
However, the United States continues to form new terrorist units in the Middle East and Africa in order to send them to Ukraine via Poland, the agency pointed out.
"The CIA and the US Army Special Operations Command continue to form new ‘Daesh fighter echelons' in the Middle East and Africa. Their transfer to participate in subversive and terrorist activities in Ukraine is planned to be carried out through the territory of Poland."
The Russian Defence Ministry said on Thursday that US military intelligence was stepping up a campaign to recruit mercenaries for Ukraine. Around 200 Croatian mercenaries arrived in Ukraine via Poland last week, the Russian Defence Ministry’s spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
"US military intelligence has launched a large-scale propaganda campaign to recruit PMC [private military company] contractors to be sent to Ukraine. First of all, employees of the American PMCs Academi, Cubic, and Dyn Corporation are being recruited. [...] Only last week, about 200 mercenaries from Croatia arrived through Poland, who joined one of the nationalist battalions in the southeast of Ukraine".
He emphasised that foreign mercenaries in Ukraine cannot be considered prisoners of war (POW) if detained in line with international humanitarian law. When detained, they can expect criminal prosecution at best, Konashenkov said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that nationalist and neo-Nazi formations, which include foreign mercenaries from the Middle East, are using civilians in Ukraine as human shields. The Kremlin stressed that neo-Nazis in Ukraine are using terrorist methods by deploying heavy weapons in residential areas.
The Kremlin's press service also said that there's been an increasing number of foreign mercenaries in Ukraine, including from Albania and Croatia, as well as Kosovo militants and jihadists with military experience in Syria.
On 27 February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the creation of a foreign legion, the International Legion of Territorial Defence of Ukraine. Days later, the country's foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, claimed that more than a thousand mercenaries from 16 countries were headed to Ukraine. Zelensky has asserted that about 16,000 foreign mercenaries were going to fight for Ukraine.
On 24 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin authorised
a special military operation in Ukraine following a request from the Donbass republics, which he had recognised
a few days earlier.
"The goal [of the Russian special operation] is to protect people who have been subjected to abuse, genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years, and for this we will strive to demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine, as well as bring to justice those who committed numerous bloody crimes against peaceful residents, including citizens of the Russian Federation", Putin said in his televised address to citizens.
*Daesh, also known as ISIS/IS/Islamic State, is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.