A Russian website, Dobrovolec.org, has posted a call for volunteers to enlist for Russia's military activity in Syria.
Dobrovolec was founded in the winter of 2014, during the Crimean crisis, and at that time called for volunteers to enlist for military activity in Ukraine. It describes itself as non-profit "military volunteer movement" that is not affiliated with any political, religious or commercial organization. Its "About Us" section states: "Our initiative was founded as a project to promote the organization of self-defense units during the events of the 'Russian Spring' in Crimea and eastern Ukraine... Our activity is not limited to the conflicts in Novorossiya-Ukraine; currently we are actively participating in organizing a volunteer movement in SyriaÔÇª"
The website also states that it is not in the business of recruiting mercenaries, because this contravenes Russian law. However, in its call for volunteers to fight in Syria, it states that enlistment will be "contract-based."
The following are excerpts from its call:
Dobrovolec.org: "We Are Enlisting Volunteers To Participate In Special Activities" In Syria
"Russians in Syria!" - the call for volunteers on Dobrovolec.org
"We hereby announce that we are enlisting volunteers to participate in special activities as part of the Russian mission aimed at stabilizing the situation in the [Middle East] region, protecting important facilities, and strengthening Russia's military-political presence in Syria in order to prevent the formation there of a pro-American or extremist religious regime that will threaten the entire civilized world.
"Enlistment is contract-based, for a minimum of six months, with arrangements for leave. More information will be provided at the gathering point, whose location will be given following the initial interview and the submission of the necessary documentsÔÇª
"Candidates must be:
ÔÇó Men aged 23 or over
ÔÇó Without a criminal record
ÔÇó In good physical and mental health
ÔÇó With military experience (preference for contract-based activity and combat experience / military education)
ÔÇó Who comply with the physical requirements of the [Russian] Ground Forces (for their age group) for firearms and tactical training.
ÔÇó Without alcohol or drug abuse problems and [other] bad habits; knowledge of foreign languages - an advantage."
The website provides several forms for candidates to fill out and an email address for submitting them.
Russian President's Spokesman: Supporting Volunteer Units Is Not The Role Of The State
It should be noted that Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov, head of the armed forces committee in Russia's parliament, did not rule out that a Russian volunteer unit, including fighters who gained experience in Donbass (in eastern Ukraine), may join the Syrian government forces. He added that what attracts volunteers to Syria is the possibility of earning money, among other factors. However, Russian Foreign Minister spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stressed in response to his claims that Russia had no plans to carry out ground operation in Syria, and that "there are no official plans to call up, sign up or recruit any volunteers." Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, likewise said that supporting volunteer units was not the role of the state and that this issue was currently not on the agenda.