More than two weeks after invading Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has advocated sending volunteers to help pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region in the far east of the neighbouring country.
"As you see, there are people who want to come on a voluntary basis, especially not for money, and help the people who live in the Donbass - well, you have to meet them halfway and help them move into the combat zone," Putin told a meeting of the National Security Council on Friday.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that more than 16,000 people had already come forward from the Middle East alone to fight for the "liberation movement" of the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics.
Shoigu also spoke in favour of a further transfer of military units and "of course these new, modern complexes" to Russia's western borders.
Putin ordered a Defence Ministry report on the matter. "Based on the results of its discussion, we will make a relevant decision in the near future."
'Mercenaries' in Ukraine
The head of the Kremlin also deplored the deployment of "mercenaries from all over the world" in Ukraine:
"The Western sponsors of Ukraine, the Ukrainian regime, they don't hide it, they do it openly, disregarding all norms of international law."