Challenge-Response – How Russia Is Countering ‘Western’ Moves Against It


March 3: Zelensky says 16,000 foreigners have volunteered to fight for Ukraine against Russian invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday said that 16,000 foreigners have volunteered to fight for Ukraine against the Russian invasion.

In an emotional video posted to his Telegram channel, Zelensky referred to the “international legion” of 16,000 foreign volunteers he has sought to “join the defense of Ukraine, Europe and the world.” The country earlier this week temporarily lifted visa requirements for foreign volunteers who wish to enter the country and join the fight against Russian forces.

March 8: 450 Arab and foreign extremists from Idlib arrive in Ukraine

Close to 450 extremist Arab and foreign nationals have arrived in Ukraine from Idlib to fight against Russia’s forces, less than only three days after they left Syria, passing through Turkey.

Relatives of extremists that have arrived in Ukraine told Sputnik that senior fighters from terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (the rebranded version of Jabhat Al-Nusra, i.e Al-Qaeda) have held a number of meetings with senior leaders in the Turkistan Islamic Party group and Ansar Al-Tawhid and Hurras al-Din groups, and agreed on allowing a number of all their fighters to enter Ukraine through Turkish soil.


March 11: President of Russia: Meeting with permanent members of Security Council

Sergei Shoigu: We are receiving a huge number of requests from all manner of volunteers from different countries, who would like to come to the Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics to take part in the liberation movement, as they say. The largest number of requests, over 16,000, has come from the Middle East. We believe that we should grant these requests, especially since the matter does not concern money but a genuine desire of these people. We know many of them; they helped us fight ISIS in the most difficult period, during the past 10 years.

Vladimir Putin: All right, thank you very much.

Regarding the mobilisation of mercenaries from all over the world and sending them to Ukraine. We can see that Ukraine’s Western sponsors and the Ukrainian regime are not concealing this fact. They are doing this openly and neglecting norms of international law. So, if you see that some volunteers would like to come and help the people in Donbass, especially without pay, then we should meet them halfway and help them relocate to the war zone.

I am sure that the fighters from Syria and elsewhere who will fight on Russia’s side will get some pay from this or that sponsor, most likely Iran. Some Russian billionaire may also be willing to chip in. But it is important for Putin to show that these are not mercenaries like those on the other side – thus no official pay.

There was an additional challenge-response pair with regards to Ukraine.

Shoigu also mentioned all the foreign weapon deliveries the Ukraine has received. He told Putin that the Russian forces had captured large amounts of heavy and light weapons including U.S. derived Javelin and Stinger missiles. He proposed to give those to the militia of the Donbas republics.

Putin agreed with that.

A third challenge-response is the immense number of forces NATO currently mobilizes and moves towards its eastern border. Shoigu thinks that NATO plans for those troops to stay there forever. He will soon propose a new arrangement of Russian forces to potentially counter them.

Putin said that he would decide that separately. A few hours later he had a meeting with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. The two likely discussed the stationing of Russian troops and weapons like air defense and missile artillery systems in Belarus. That would make any potential NATO move more complicate.

In the above challenge-response pairs the Russian response is symmetric to the challenge. Foreign fighters versus foreign fighters, weapon deliveries versus weapon deliveries, and troops movements versus troop movements.

The challenges Russia has not yet responded too are the myriad sanctions the ‘west’ has enacted against it. There the responses can only be asymmetric.

I wonder why Putin is waiting to make them public. Does he want to keep them in reserve?