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18 Feb, 2024 16:56

South American nation denies it provides mercenaries for Ukraine

Any Colombians who are fighting for Kiev are doing so based on their own “personal decisions,” Bogota has claimed
South American nation denies it provides mercenaries for Ukraine

The Colombian government does not “encourage or facilitate” the flow of mercenaries from the country to fight for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, the Foreign Ministry has said.

The ministry made the statement on Saturday, stressing that there are no “bilateral agreements” to send mercenaries to Kiev. Bogota only provides “consular assistance” to nationals and their families should they be “affected” by the hostilities, it said. “The government of Colombia neither encourages nor facilitates this type of activity.”

The statement came shortly after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov brought up the issue of Colombian mercenaries fighting for Ukraine, warning that combat-hardened fighters will ultimately become a problem for their home countries. 

Many foreign mercenaries fighting for Kiev have already become “disappointed” with the conflict, and some have returned to their home countries, Lavrov said at a conference in Moscow on Friday marking the 10th anniversary of the 2014 Maidan coup in Kiev.

“If people who remain in this war that the West is waging against us are going through a military phase of their lives, it is likely that they will return to it, especially given that in Colombia there is always someone to argue with and has always had someone to compete with,” the foreign minister said, apparently referring to the years-long drug wars and low-intensity insurgencies which have plagued the Latin American nation.

Earlier this month, AP published a report on Colombian military veterans fighting for Kiev against Russia. According to the report, the Ukrainian authorities have been actively recruiting mercenaries from the country, as well as from other Latin American nations, luring them in with paychecks of up to $3,300 a month, as well as promising compensation for those injured or killed in action.

The agency witnessed around 50 Colombians recovering at a military hospital at an undisclosed location in Ukraine. One of the mercenaries claimed that his unit alone included around 100 of his compatriots. AP also spoke to people in Colombia taking part in training the mercenaries before they travel to Ukraine.

“They’re like the Latin American migrants who go to the US in search of a better future. These are not volunteers who want to defend another country’s flag. They are simply motivated by economic need,” Hector Bernal, a retired medic who runs training courses outside Bogota, told AP.