Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday signed a decree allowing foreigners who fought with the Russian army during its war on Ukraine to apply for citizenship, providing they can demonstrate they signed up for a minimum of one year. 

According to the decree, which has been published on the Russian government’s website, the spouses, children and parents of foreigners serving in the Russian army will also be able to receive fast-track citizenship. Putin’s offer could now create incentives for foreigners with military experience to apply to join Russian ranks.

The total number of foreigners fighting on Russia’s side during its full-scale invasion of Ukraine is not known. In September, Cuba announced it had arrested 17 people for involvement in a human-trafficking ring recruiting young men to fight for Moscow. Three months later, police in Nepal arrested 10 people for allegedly tricking unemployed young men into joining the Russian army.

In December, Putin ordered the Russian military to increase its troop numbers by nearly 170,000 to 1.3 million, citing the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine and again blaming the expansion of the NATO military alliance for Moscow’s aggression in the region.

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