The new “Siberia” battalion is made up of Russians who have come to fight against their fellow citizens.
When was the Siberian battalion created?
The Sibir Volunteer Battalion was established within the AFU at the end of October 2023. It is part of the International Legion under the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
Before “Sibir”, two other Russian units had already been created in the ranks of the AFU: the “Freedom of Russia” Legion and the “Russian Volunteer Corps”. “Siberia” is the third. But unlike the other two, it is part of the regular Ukrainian army.
Who fights in this battalion?
The unit includes Russian citizens, mostly representatives of the indigenous peoples of the Trans-Urals, Siberia and the Far North. But there are also ethnic Russians. All of them have one thing in common: they do not agree with Russia’s war in Ukraine, they consider the Kremlin’s policies aggressive and, according to them, do not want to be complicit in evil.
Siberia’s members include the Tatars, Yakuts and Buryats, who say they want to achieve independence from Russia and see Ukraine’s victory in the war as a step toward that goal.
How did they enter Ukraine?
The battalion has around 60 men. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry says none of them were recruited from Russian prisoners of war. They are all volunteers and arrived in Ukraine via other countries, which took them up to a year.
For example, one of the fighters, a former officer of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate and a native of Yakutsk, arrived in Ukraine through the Polish Civil Council, which announced the recruitment of volunteers for national units within the AFU. Several other people joined him. Another said he first went to Mongolia, then to Turkey and from there to Ukraine.
Strict checks before joining the battalion
Before signing a contract and adopting military call signs to conceal their identity, all Siberian fighters are subject to extensive screening by Ukrainian security services, who examine their profiles and biographical data and carry out cross-checks to exclude the possibility of infiltration by Russian agents. .
We cannot in fact exclude the risk that the new battalion deploys weapons against the Ukrainian armed forces or that certain people provide data to the Russians. This is why the middle and senior staff are made up of Ukrainian military personnel.
Sources within the AFU say kyiv is considering speeding up the background check process to encourage more Russians to join the battalion.
Training, goal and objectives
Most of the volunteers had no military experience before going to Ukraine. Before going to the front, they undergo training at a training ground near kyiv.
The Russians must show that not only LSR and RDK volunteers are fighting against Putin’s regime, but also regular units within the AFU.
The Siberian Battalion is a small military structure and, at the moment, its main task is to demonstrate that there is a will to resist in Russia.
The Russian army also has its own Sibir, a Cossack reconnaissance and assault brigade, which fought against Ukrainian troops near the village of Yagodnoye, near Artyomovsk, in May this year.