Austria hints at number of citizens fighting in Ukraine — Analysis

“Anyone who has lived through violence poses a risk” after returning home, an intelligence chief warns

Omar Haijawi Pirchner (Directorate of State Security and Intelligence) said only a handful of Austrian citizens were currently in Ukraine fighting. But their return still presents a security risk.

They are security experts “aware of a low, two-digit number”Haijawi Pirchner stated that Austrians currently participate in conflict between Kiev, Moscow in interview with Kronen Zeitung.

The DSN, established in the early 2021 as a response to a fatal attack in Vienna by an Islamist gunman, remains concerned for these people, he stated.

“Anyone who has lived through violence poses a risk when he returns,” Haijawi-Pirchner explained.

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The agency has also worked to make sure that weapons being supplied to Ukraine by the West don’t end up in the hands of organized criminal groups or terrorists, he added.

Covid-19 and the conflict in Ukraine which caused high inflation among others, were both part of this pandemic. “a long-term impact on internal security,”The intelligence chief stated.

“Right-wing extremism is being strengthened, among other things, by the war in Ukraine. Islamist terrorism is gaining prominence again.”

Thousands of foreign fighters arrived in Ukraine following the launch of Russia’s military operation on February 24, responding to a call by President Vladimir Zelensky.

In April, the Russian military estimated the number of ‘mercenaries’ at nearly 7,000, but earlier this month, it said that only 2,741 foreign fighters remain in Ukraine. While many of these mercenaries were exterminated, others fled their homes to seek refuge in other countries.

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Igor Konashenkov, spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry, has warned recently that mercenaries should not be considered combatants in international law. “the best thing that awaits them if they are captured alive is a trial and maximum prison terms.”

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