The Defense Intelligence of Ukraine has raised concerns about Russia’s alleged recruitment of foreign fighters, including citizens of Sierra Leone, to bolster its forces in the ongoing war.

According to Andrii Yusov, a representative of the intelligence agency, Russia is targeting individuals from low-income countries with promises of quick and easy money, potentially misleading them about the true nature of their deployment.

“We have information that the Russian Federation is actively recruiting residents of countries with low incomes, offering them financial incentives without fully disclosing the nature of the work or the potential risks involved,” Yusov stated. He added that while these offers may appear attractive in countries experiencing economic hardship, actual deployments could involve combat situations, contradicting Russia’s promises.

This revelation comes shortly after the 46th Airmobile Brigade of Ukraine captured a Russian mercenary identified as a Sierra Leonean national. According to the Cloooud on Twitter (X), the incident occurred in the Mariinka direction on February 10, 2024, adding to the tensions in the region. The captured individual’s identity and the circumstances surrounding his capture remain unclear.

This incident, coupled with Yusov’s statement, suggests Russia may be seeking cheaper alternatives to domestic mobilization, potentially exploiting vulnerable individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Yusov emphasized the crucial role of international condemnation towards such recruitment practices. “It is vital for governments of affected countries to publicly denounce these activities, even through diplomatic channels,” he said. “Their silence could inadvertently contribute to this exploitation.”