“We can confirm the information about the creation of the Siberian battalion, which operates in the ranks of the International Legion of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Andriy Yusov, a representative of the Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Directorate (HUR) said.
Yusov confirmed an article written by Bloomberg, that dozens of Russians and representatives of Russian ethnic minorities, had traveled via third countries to join the Ukrainian army and serve in the battalion.
Among them are Yakuts and Buryats, who see Ukraine's victory as an opportunity to gain independence from Russia.
Unlike volunteer groups such as the Russian Freedom Legion, which have simply declared their support for Ukraine, these soldiers are part of the regular Ukrainian army and expect to see combat very soon.
The International Legion is a unit of foreign fighters subordinated to the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine (HUR).
Yusov said that this is only the beginning and Ukraine will continue to recruit Russian citizens to similar battalions.
“Ukraine will continue to expand the number of such units, which consist of the peoples of the Russian Federation and express a desire to defend Ukraine on the one hand, and on the other hand, to protect their peoples and small homelands from Russian imperial oppression,” Yusov said.
The fighters of the Siberia or “Siber” battalion have been thoroughly tested – something that can take up to a year – and have signed a military contract, receiving army call signs to protect their identity, Yusov said.
The battalion does not recruit captured Russian soldiers.
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