Russia is trying to recruit foreign migrants detained at the Finnish border to fight in its war in Ukraine, the BBC reported Thursday.
The BBC cited evidence of “several cases” in which foreigners were “rushed into a military camp on the border with Ukraine, days after they were picked up for breaching immigration laws.”
It’s not a new practice for Russian recruiters, but the numbers of people coerced into the military from pre-deportation detention centers have reportedly swelled as foreign migrants have arrived at the Russian-Finnish border.
Finland has temporarily closed all eight of its border crossings with Russia, accusing Moscow of luring migrants and asylum seekers there.
Breaking 100 years of military neutrality, Finland officially joined NATO, the world’s largest military alliance, in April of this year in response to Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
Less than three months ago, Russia raised its maximum age of military conscription from 27 to 30 in an effort to replenish its troops on the front lines.
Hundreds of thousands of Russian men have scrambled to cross the borders into Finland as well as Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Georgia to avoid being drafted.
According to the United Kingdom’s Defense Ministry, Russia has likely suffered as many as 350,000 casualties in Ukraine—though the ministry added that Russian officials likely don’t know how many of their own soldiers have been killed or injured because the Kremlin has a history of dishonesty in reporting those figures.