That is why Putin needs Syrian mercenaries

That is why Putin needs Syrian mercenaries

Russian TV has shown clips of Syrian fighters in camouflage clothing and weapons. They stand in front of banners with pictures of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Russian Defense Minister has claimed that 16,000 volunteers from the Middle East have already signed up. Sources interviewed by P1’s Middle East podcast claim that militiamen are prepared and according to the NY Times, around 300 Syrian soldiers have already arrived in Russia to receive military training. Some observers say combatants are also being recruited from the Middle East through the infamous Wagner group. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj believes that Russia has hired “Syrian hooligans” to take part in the invasion of Ukraine. At the same time, there are Syrian rebels who claim that they want to fight on Ukraine’s side. But the information is uncertain, it is difficult to confirm how many mercenaries have actually been recruited or if it is above all part of the propaganda war.

The countries of the Middle East are balancing

Several countries are trying to balance between Russia and Ukraine. The United Arab Emirates is one of the countries that abstained when the UN Security Council voted to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and several oil-rich Gulf states have wavered between the great powers Russia and the United States. In Egypt, Putin is hailed as a strong leader on state television. In Israel, there are pro-Russian groups within the population, while many Jewish refugees from Ukraine are now seeking protection in Israel. In addition, oligarchs from both Russia and Ukraine have Israeli citizenship. When President Zelensky spoke to the Israeli parliament and compared the situation in Ukraine with the Holocaust, the reactions in Israel became strong. Hear how countries in the region are trying to maneuver between Russia and the United States in the Ukraine issue.

Participating: Cecilia UddénMiddle East Correspondent, Samar Hadrousreporter at Ekot and Maria Persson-LöfgrenRussia correspondent

Host: Olle Wiberg,

Introduction: Johar Bendjelloul

Producer: Katja Magnusson

Technician: Jocke Persson


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