Russia looking to recruit fighters from neighboring countries, UK says
Russia has been looking to recruit the citizens of neighbouring countries to fight in Ukraine, the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence said Sunday.
“Russia likely wishes to avoid further unpopular domestic mobilisation measures in the run up to the 2024 Presidential elections. Exploiting foreign nationals allows the Kremlin to acquire additional personnel for its war effort in the face of mounting casualties,” the ministry said on the X social media platform, formerly known as Twitter.
A man walks past a recruitment poster for the army, reading: “Our profession is to defend the Fatheland,” June 20, 2023 in Moscow, Russia.
Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Online adverts have been observed in Armenia and Kazakhstan offering 495,000 roubles ($5,140) in initial payments and salaries from 190,000 roubles (or $1,973), the ministry added.
There have been recruitment efforts in Kazakhstan’s northern Qostanai region, appealing to the ethnic Russian population. Since at least May 2023, Russia “has approached central Asian migrants to fight in Ukraine with promises of fast-track citizenship and salaries of up to $4,160.”
“Uzbek migrant builders in Mariupol have reportedly had their passports confiscated upon arrival and been coerced to join the Russian military. There are at least six million migrants from Central Asia in Russia, which the Kremlin likely sees as potential recruits,” the ministry said.
CNBC has requested a comment from the Russian defense ministry on the U.K.’s defense intelligence analysis and is awaiting a response.
— Holly Ellyatt
Ukraine’s forces break through the line of Russian defenses, officials say
Ukraine appears to be making headway in its counteroffensive in southern Ukraine with reports emerging that the country’s forces have broken through a first line of Russian defenses in the Zaporizhzhia region.
A commander of southern forces in Ukraine, Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskiy, told the British Observer newspaper in an interview published on Saturday that his forces were “now between the first and second defensive lines” of heavy and layered Russian fortifications in the south.
“In the centre of the offensive, we are now completing the destruction of enemy units that provide cover for the retreat of Russian troops behind their second defensive line,” he told the paper.
A Ukrainian serviceman walks near a destroyed Ukrainian tank, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, near the village of Robotyne, Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine on Aug. 25, 2023.
Viacheslav Ratynskyi | Reuters
The general said he expected faster Ukrainian gains, as his forces face a weaker second line of defense, and added that Russia is already deploying its reserves to the area.
“The enemy is pulling up reserves, not only from Ukraine but also from Russia. But sooner or later, the Russians will run out of all the best soldiers. This will give us an impetus to attack more and faster,” Tarnavskiy reportedly said.
Head of the Ukrainian President’s Office Andriy Yermak said on the X social media platform, formerly known as Twitter, that he had on Saturday informed U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan “about the situation on the battlefield, the successful advance of defense forces in certain areas of the front.”
Kyiv’s main aim is for its troops to break Russia’s so-called “land bridge” across occupied southern Ukraine to Crimea, and Ukrainian forces are aiming to advance southwards towards the port cities of Melitopol and Berdiansk. Tarnavskiy would not comment on any expected timeline to reach the coast.
CNBC has asked Ukraine’s defense ministry for further comment.
— Holly Ellyatt
Ukraine dismisses Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov
Ukraine’s former Minister of Defence Oleksii Reznikov.
Sebastian Gollnow | AFP | Getty Images
Ukraine’s defense minister was dismissed over the weekend, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on Sunday, saying that the defense ministry needs “needs new approaches.”
“I have decided to replace the Minister of Defense of Ukraine. Oleksiy Reznikov has gone through more than 550 days of full-scale war. I believe that the Ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction with both the military and society at large,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address of Sunday.
Rustem Umerov, who previously led Ukraine’s State Property Fund, was named as the new defense minister.
Ukraine’s new Defense Minister Rustem Umerov.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Zelenskyy said that he expected the Ukrainian parliament to approve the move, adding that “autumn is a time for strengthening.”
Reznikov’s departure is not entirely unexpected and follows rumors that the defense ministry’s leadership could be overhauled from months ago. Reznikov’s deputy resigned after a scandal over the procurement of food for the military, although there is no suggestion that Reznikov was involved in the controversy.
Ukrainian media has reported that Reznikov could now become Ukraine’s new ambassador to the U.K., but this has not been confirmed.
— Holly Ellyatt