Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the Defense Department believed reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin was recruiting Syrian fighters for the War in Ukraine. "We believe there's truth to that. So, it's interesting that, that Mr. Putin would have to find himself relying on foreign fighters," Kirby said at a press briefing on March 7.

Pentagon does not know why Putin wants foreign fighters

Putin still had "an awful lot of combat power available to him" in Ukraine, so it was not clear why he wanted to recruit foreigners, Kirby said.

He noted that morale among Russian troops was not good and there were problems with food, fuel and other supplies. "But I can't honestly - I cannot get inside, you know, Mr. Putin's brain as to why he would find it necessary to seek support from foreign fighters," Kirby said. The text of Kirby's comments can be viewed at the Department of Defense website.

On March 6, The Wall Street Journal reported that Russia had been looking for Syrians with urban combat experience to fight in Ukraine. The Guardian noted that a Syrian website had earlier publicized job opportunities for mercenaries willing to help the Russians in Ukraine.

Russia and Syria

NPR recalled that Russia had gotten involved in the Syrian civil war in 2015, taking the side of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Russian air force killed many civilians and destroyed whole neighborhoods in its bombing of Aleppo in 2016, NPR said. The Russian military still maintained a presence in Syria, the public broadcaster noted.

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy tweeted a link to The Wall Street Journal article and said, "Mercenaries coming from Syria to reinforce Putin?

The circle is complete. Unification of criminals. Alliance in the destruction of cities. And Odessa's fate to be similar to Aleppo. Horror." On March 7, Al Jazeera reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had warned of Russian preparations to bomb Odessa.

US veterans volunteer to defend Ukraine

Writing in The New York Times, Dave Philipps said "a surge of American veterans" had gone to Ukraine in order to volunteer for an "international legion" formed by Zelensky.

David Ribardo, of Volunteers for Ukraine, told Philipps that the organization had been overwhelmed by the number of veterans wanting to defend Ukraine. The Ukrainian government had asked prospective volunteers to contact a Ukrainian consulate, Philipps said.

Reuters noted that the American and British governments had urged their citizens not to volunteer to fight in Ukraine. On the other hand, the governments of Canada and Germany had not raised any objections, the news agency said. Reuters said there was an abundance of volunteers but few of them were able to use anti-tank missiles, a skill which took months to learn.