According to a new report, Vladimir Putin is employing mercenaries, much like he did in Crimea and Ukraine.
The Russian Federation's constitution prohibits the government from employing mercenaries, but that hasn't stopped its president before. Now, the indepndent intelligence and security news service Debka is reporting that 2,000 more mercenaries from an organization known as the Wagner Group were airlifted into Syria last week.
These mercenaries are all retirees from elite units of the Russian ground forces, air force or navy. Their presence in the country brings the total number of Wagner Group mercenaries in the country, working under the Russian flag, to 5,000.
Ironically, the Wagner Group does not officially exist and is not listed anywhere in Russia. However, a company bearing that name operates out of Argentina, even though its recruits receive training in Russia. They are trained, our sources reveal, at a base of the 10th special forces brigade of GRU military intelligence, located near the village of Molkino in the Krasnodar area of southern Russia, about 150km northeast of the Black Sea. The identity of Wagner’s boss is held secret, but Western intelligence sources name him as Dmitry Utkin, who until 2013 was a lieutenant colonel in the 2nd Spetznaz brigade.
This is a major issue for Israel. In addition to the mercenaries, it is reported that Russia has deployed Muslim soldiers from the republic of Ingushetia into the de-escalation zones, where they are expected to serve as "ceasefire monitors." One of these zones is the Syrian border with Israel.