Russian army recruiting Serbian mercenaries for war in Ukraine

Serbian mercenaries are being recruited into the Russian army, according to BBC Russian Service. The mercenaries are transported to the Moscow region and assigned to the 106th Airborne Division. The recruitment effort is being led by Serbian commander Davor Savicic, who has been fighting in eastern Ukraine since 2014, along with Aleksandr "Surgeon" Zaldostanov, the leader of the Night Wolves motorcycle club, who has connections to Serbian right-wing circles, and Marko Milosevic, son of former Yugoslav president, living in Russia.

Journalists have discovered that the Serbians are being housed in temporary accommodation near a ski stadium in Krasnogorsk, and their paperwork is being handled by a special notary. Contract procedures take place in the town of Korolev.

The Moscow region was chosen because its authorities reportedly failed to meet its mobilization targets. An activist from the Order of the Republic organization provided BBC with a list of Serbian volunteers.

BBC Russian Service also obtained a recording of a meeting in which Davor Savicic mentioned plans to establish a full Serbian brigade within the 106th Airborne Division by autumn 2023, with up to a thousand Serbian citizens recruited. However, according to the journalists, only around a hundred have been processed so far before the recruitment process was halted.

Journalists have made contact with one of the mercenaries on the list, who claims to work as an engineer-builder. The Serbian soldier's mother has confirmed that he works on a construction site and "rarely calls, as he has problems with his mobile network in Russia." However, photos on his social media show him posing with weapons in the Serbian army's military uniform. "I was born to fight, and I will fight," he writes.

Serbian laws prohibit citizens from participating in conflicts abroad. In late August, the Serbian sniper Deyan Beric and the commander of the "international battalion," Davor Savichich, confirmed during the  talk show "Soloviev Live" that Serbian mercenaries are involved in the war in Ukraine. Savichich claimed that his battalion initially operated near the Hostomel airport, just outside Kyiv, before being transferred to the Kharkiv region and later to the village of Bogorodichne in the Kramatorsk district of the Donetsk region.

  War in Ukraine, Serbia