The newly formed “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 created as part of 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 more units of Russians 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 Ukrainian regular 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 policy aggressive and, in their opinion, do not want to be complicit in evil.
Among the members of Siberia are Tatars, Yakuts and Buryats, who say they want to gain independence from Russia and see Ukraine’s victory in the war as a step towards this goal.
How did they enter Ukraine?
There are approximately 60 men serving in the battalion. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry says none of them were recruited from Russian prisoners of war. They are all volunteers and came to Ukraine via other countries, which took them up to a year.
For example, one of the fighters, a former officer of the Main Directorate of Russian Intelligence and a native of Yakutsk, came to Ukraine through the Polish Civil Council, which announced the recruitment of volunteers for national units within the AFU. He was joined by several other people. Another said he traveled first to Mongolia, then to Turkey and from there to Ukraine.
Strict checks before entering the battalion
Before signing a contract and adopting army names to hide their identity, all Siberian fighters undergo a thorough check by the Ukrainian Security Service, which examines their profiles and biodata and cross-checks exclude the possibility of infiltration by possible Russian agents. .
After all, the danger that the new battalion could deploy weapons against the Ukrainian armed forces or that someone would provide data to the Russians cannot be ruled out. This is why the middle and high-ranking personnel are made up of Ukrainian military personnel.
AFU sources say Kiev intends to speed up the background check process to encourage more Russians to join the battalion.
Training, purpose and objectives
Most of the volunteers had no military experience before going to Ukraine. Before going to the front line, they train at a training camp near Kiev.
The Russians must demonstrate that not only LSR and RDK volunteers are fighting against the Putin regime, but also regular AFU units.
The Siberia 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.