Serbian mercenary recruiter slams Russian army leadership for poor treatment and lack of support

Dejan Beric, a Serbian mercenary recruiter for the Russian army, has criticized the leadership of the 119th Parachute Assault Regiment which includes foreign troops. In a video statement released on VKontakte social network on Monday, January 8, Beric, dressed in a t-shirt emblazoned with 'Putin's Team. The People’s Front' complained that Russian commanders are refusing to supply the Serbians with sufficient weaponry and lack of medical treatment for the wounded.

Beric claims that he had to personally, with the assistance of the ‘People's Front,’ procure vehicles, quadcopters, combat boots, and provide water for the mercenaries.

Additionally, Beric who has become a trusted representative of Russian President Vladimir Putin for the elections in March 2024, remarked that the officers of the 119th Regiment refer to the Serbian mercenaries as "gypsies" and don't understand their motivation for participating in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Before New Year, the regiment’s command ordered the Serbians to assault Ukrainian Armed Forces positions, issuing them 2-3 magazines each and instructing them to "acquire other weapons in battle," reported the BBC Russian Service, citing Berich's words. The Serbians refused to comply with this order and requested to be transferred to a different unit, only to be branded as deserters and war criminals. The Serbian mercenaries were forced out from their dugouts and left in the cold without food or water for several days, after which representatives of the military police arrived and offered them to sign a confession that they acknowledged being spies.

Dejan Beric also reported that he appealed to the military prosecutor's office and the leadership of Chechnya to transfer the Serbian mercenaries to the ‘Akhmat’ squad, but “the leadership of the 119th Regiment does not want this to end well.” He described the command of the 119th Regiment as an “OPG” (Russian abbreviation for a organized criminal group) and expressed concern that he could be prosecuted for "discrediting the army", fearing that this video might be used by unspecified "enemies.”

In October, the BBC Russian Service reported that Russia was actively recruiting citizens  of Serbia and other Balkan countries for the war in Ukraine. According to its information, foreign volunteers are being recruited through a military draft office in Krasnogorsk, near Moscow. The recruitment of volunteers in Serbia has also been confirmed by Davor Savicic and Dejan Beric, who are fighting on the side of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

The British intelligence in its daily bulletin has previously reported on Russia's attempts to recruit residents from neighboring states for war against Ukraine.

  War in Ukraine, Serbia, Russian army