In early December, Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden arranged a video conference, mainly devoted to the situation around Ukraine. According to American intelligence, Russia is preparing for a full-scale invasion. The negotiations have changed little: despite the threat of new sanctions, Moscow, according to the Pentagon, continues to build up troops near the border (analysts from the Conflict Intelligence Team also note that the equipment is being brought in “alarming quantities”). Nevertheless, to many experts, the new military conflict seemsimplausible scenario. At the same time, recruiters began recruiting groups of mercenaries for a “combat mission to Donbass,” according to Meduza’s sources. What tasks they will face is unknown. Meduza’s special correspondent Lilia Yapparova spoke with the mercenaries and found out that they themselves are skeptical of a possible “business trip”.
Former serviceman Yegor – in the Russian campaign in Syria, he participated as a mercenary of the Wagner PMC – began negotiating a new military mission in the fall of 2021. “[The recruiter] called about two months ago. He said that a new project is underway, “he tells Meduza.
The recruiter did not represent any of the private military companies (PMCs) known to the mercenary – and even mentioned that he himself “does not know the direction yet, but assumes that it is there, to Africa.” “Naturally, I clung to it,” says Yegor. “It was interesting to me.” The recruiter himself allegedly did not know exactly whether the detachment would go exactly to Africa (a former military man who, according to Yegor, once rose to “serious shoulder straps”).
In early December, he and Yegor finally saw each other to discuss the details. During this meeting, Yegor learned about the estimated salary (about 240 thousand rubles a month) and the place of preparation of the future detachment – a training center in the Vesely farm near Rostov-on-Don. “The Ministry of Defense Base,” explains Meduza’s interlocutor, what kind of training center it is. – Spent [tried and tested]. There, back in 2014, they began [to form groups for transfer to Donbass]. There were only two [mercenary] training grounds – Vesely and Molkino. “WHAT IS THE BASE ON THE FARM?
The mention of the farm worried Yegor. “I asked a specific question: I am a little worried about the location of your training center; which direction? He says: well, there, – the mercenary retells the conversation in which Ukraine was first mentioned. – I told him: no, that’s it. This concludes. I won’t go there. “
According to Yegor, there has not been such a wide recruitment for the “Ukrainian direction” for several years. “I think it is the most active [recruitment campaign] since 2014,” says Meduza’s source (referring to his experience and conversations with other mercenaries). At the same time, he doubts that the detachment will still be sent to Ukraine: “I can’t believe it, to be honest. I think they will just measure themselves against [military strength] for a while. Above, they also understand that this is wildness. Road to nowhere”.
According to Meduza, not only professional mercenaries, but also ordinary veterans of the conflict in Donbass have received an offer to go on a “paid business trip to Ukraine” since the end of November 2021. There is also a recruitment among the residents of the unrecognized Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics who have combat experience (the tasks that will be assigned to these “units” are not yet clear).
Meduza was told about the search for people for the “business trip”: one of the recruiters; combatants in 2014–2015; military specialists who have passed campaigns in Syria and Africa; members of the Union of Donbass Volunteers (UDV) ; natives of the army, special services and special forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (eight sources in total).
Meduza’s interlocutor, himself looking for mercenaries to join one of the groups, claims that “the story began to gather” three months ago. However, most of the interviewed specialists received such proposals in the past few weeks. And the inhabitants of the LPR and the DPR – a little earlier, “about a month ago,” said one of the sources.
Only two out of a dozen recruiters with whom Meduza’s interlocutors negotiated are considered by the mercenaries to be “representatives of the Ministry of Defense.” The rest are veterans of several PMCs and volunteer groups, representatives of the UDV and recruiters who allegedly offer to conclude a “contract with the Ministry of Defense”, but do not have any authority to do so, the fighters are convinced.
The Russian Defense Ministry did not answer Meduza’s questions at the time this article was published.