Several Russian businesses pay $350 monthly to young Palestinian men to recruit them for deployment to Ukraine, according to a report by The Media Line quoting a source in Lebanon’s state security services.
According to the report, the recruitment is being conducted in collaboration with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah organization based in Lebanon. In addition, Radio Liberty highlighted the piece in a news item on its Telegram channel.
According to the publication, Hezbollah is “actively” recruiting young backers who are “experienced in operating drones” as well as “individuals with skills in urban guerrilla warfare.”
Over 300 Palestinians have already been deployed to the front lines after receiving “quick training in Russia,” according to the publication. The Media Line claims that another batch of about 100 fighters is being geared up for deployment to Ukraine.
Most Palestinians being transferred to Ukraine’s frontlines are from Ein Al-Khalwa, Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp just south of Sidon’s port city. The recruits are also said to be members of the Fatah movement, whose leader is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
It is unclear how many Palestinians have been enlisted to fight for Russia. Still, it is believed that over 300 have already finished fast training in Moscow and have been sent to the frontlines.
In the Ein Al-Khalwa refugee camp, another group of roughly 100 extra militants is being assembled and prepped for deployment to Russia shortly.
The Palestinian embassy in Lebanon declined to respond, claiming it had no relation to the Ukrainian crisis and did not encourage Palestinians to participate.
According to Muhammad Sarmini, Director of the Abaad Center for Strategic Research in London and Istanbul, Syria has witnessed two pathways for recruiting militants to join the invading Russian troops since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
The Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary outfit said to have been created by Dmitry Valerievich Utkin, a former special forces officer in Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate, is the first route (GRU).
The second option is to dispatch fighters from Syria’s regular forces, mainly from military divisions overseen by Russia, such as the 25th Special Operations Division, led by Maj. Gen. Suhail Al-Hassan.
According to media reports in April 2022, Russia mass-recruited Syrians to deploy to Ukraine. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed the involvement of 16,000 “volunteers from the Middle East,” recruited mainly by the Wagner PMC.
Syrian media channels covered recruitment as well. According to a Deir ez-Zor-based website, Russia offered Syrian volunteers between $200 and $300 to “travel to Ukraine and work as guards” on a six-month contract.