Russia is recruiting former Afghan special forces personnel abandoned after the collapse of the Ashraf Ghani government to fight in Ukraine, Foreign Policy revealed, citing Afghan sources.
A 35-year-old former Afghan National Army Commando Corps captain told the outlet that he helped connect many of his former colleagues with a recruitment office in Tehran.
The potential recruits were flown to Iran from Afghanistan and then to Russia.
“When they accept Russia’s offer, the commando personnel’s phones are turned off. They proceed very secretly,” he said.
Iran recruits Former Afghan Forces for Russia war in Ukraine. Credible sources said to @AFIntlBrk that these forces were promised Russian citizenship in exchange for their participation in Ukraine war. Iran has also built a special military base for the recruiting in Mashhad.
— Fawad Aman (@FawadAman2) October 24, 2022
Thousands Willing to Accept Offer
Only a few hundred officers were evacuated after the Taliban returned to power in the South Asian country in August 2021, leaving an estimated 20,000-30,000 former Afghan commandos to fend for themselves.
Living in hiding and in dire conditions, half of the jobless former special forces soldiers are “amenable” to the Russian recruitment offer, the outlet wrote, despite having been trained by and fighting alongside the US and other allied militaries in Afghanistan.
“They have no country, no jobs, no future. They have nothing to lose,” the outlet quoted a source as saying.
Recruiters Contact Through Messaging Services
The recruiters have contacted some Afghan former commandos on WhatsApp and Signal with offers to join what experts call the Russian “foreign legion” to fight in Ukraine.
Recruitment messages seen by the outlet ask for basic details, including military rank, and to help recruit other members as well.
The news of recruitment spreads very fast among the tightly-knit community, with nearly 10,000 former soldiers willing to take up the offer.
“They are waiting for work for $3 to $4 a day in Pakistan or Iran or $10 a day in Turkey, and if Wagner or any other intelligence services come to a guy and offer $1,000 to be a fighting man again, they won’t reject it. And if you find one guy to recruit, he can get half his old unit to join up because they are like brothers — and pretty soon, you’ve got a whole platoon,” he added.