Putin’s army of thugs: Russia deploys soccer thugs to Ukraine as war drags on
Russia will deploy violent football fans, known as « hooligans » or « ultras », to Ukraine in a bid to bolster troop numbers as the conflict enters its 11th month.
“What is very clear is that Putin is not going to end this war anytime soon,” Rebekah Koffler, president of Doctrine & Strategy Consulting and former DIA intelligence officer, told Fox News Digital. « He will use hooligans, prisoners and all kinds of thugs to keep sending fighters to Ukraine, to prevent it from joining NATO. The mission is so important. »
« [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and his regime see the outcome of this war as existential for Russia and for themselves, » she added.
News broke last month that Putin had sought to recruit extremist Russian soccer fans to fight in Ukraine as part of the 106th Airborne Division and the Vostok Battalion, the Daily Mail reported.
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The unit, known as ‘Espanola’, includes recruits from club fan groups including CSKA Moscow, Zenit St Petersburg, Spartak Moscow and Lokomotiv Moscow, according to the Daily Mirror.
Stanislav « Spanish » Orlov, a commander of the hooligans, said the death of one of their members in battle has already prompted the others to « stay and fight », saying: « Our comrade died here, and now it’s is our place. . »
« The fighting part of the detachment consists of people who have military experience or who served in the army, » Orlov told Russian media Vechernyaya Moskva. « After a short training, they fight directly in the special operation area. Russian fans form small infantry reconnaissance and assault groups or send them to sapper and engineering work. »
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« On the basis of the Vostok detachment, newcomers train in shooting automatic and large-caliber weapons, train in sapper work, carry out reconnaissance and combat flights of drones, and perfect training tactics from morning to night », he added, stressing that there are « no jokes » among the group and that « hundreds » want to join the operation.
At the start of the war, Putin relied on the support of Chechen mercenaries, later trying – and failing – to recruit Syrian mercenaries and even prisoners to help bolster his forces as the war dragged on for months. more than the Russian command had anticipated.
A spokesperson for the US State Department told Fox News Digital that while the department was « unable to confirm this information », it was « another indication that Putin is looking for additional personnel to launch in this fight – troops that will be nothing but cannon fodder ». for its useless, brutal and failed war of aggression. Rather than withdraw his troops and stop this needless loss of life, Putin has repeatedly chosen to step up.
In 2018, Putin said he would ban his country’s hooligans from attending matches as the world watched Russia stage the 2018 World Cup. Now he appears to have let fans back into the fold to help increase the size of his army.
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Russian fans attacked England supporters during 2016 European Cup matches, with two men jailed after hooligans allegedly ‘mounted an urban guerrilla offensive, like paramilitaries’, the BBC reported.
Koffler explained that hooligans started leaving Russia for Ukraine when the government began to crack down on stadium violence, but those fans showed up for Russia when Putin announced the partial mobilization in September.
« When Russia announced a partial mobilization, the founder of the All-Russian Fans’ Association Andrey Malosolov announced in an interview with the ‘Moscow Speaks’ radio station that 500 of these football ultras had formed a volunteer subdivision to go fight in the Donbass, » Koffler explained.
“Putin, who originally sought to ban this move as he created chaos at sporting events, realized he could use them as mass attrition of Russian soldiers began to wane. install after months of grueling fighting, » she said.
« Authorities have ordered these fighters to put aside their differences and various allegiances and fight as a unified team for Mother Russia. This unit of what Russians call ‘quasi-footballers’ come from different clubs … they have varying levels of experience, with some having never been in combat,” Koffler continued.
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« The common characteristic is that they are vicious characters, and they have no respect for human life: fighting is what they do. It’s a way of life, and now they actually have a mission given to them by the Russian government to apply their brutal tactics on the real battlefield. »