“Volunteer fighters” may join Russian forces to fight against Ukrainian resistance, Vladimir Putin ordered on Friday. The news comes as Russia’s invasion has crossed the two-week mark.

According to reports from Associated Press citing a Kremlin transcript, Sergei Shoigu — Russia’s Defense Minister — acknowledged that “more than 16,000 applications” from Middle Eastern countries have been brought to his attention. Many of these applicants are people who he said helped Russia against the Islamic State group.

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They want “to take part in what they consider a liberation movement,” Shoigu said, on the side of Russia-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.

Since 2015, Russian forces have backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against various groups opposed to his rule, including Islamic State.

Putin told Shoigu that Russia should help would-be volunteers to “move to the combat zone” and contrasted them with what he called foreign “mercenaries” fighting for Ukraine, according to reports from Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Deputy Interior Minister Yevhen Yenin that foreign nationals who help his country’s forces fight the Russian invasion will be eligible to get Ukraine’s citizenship.

“Ukraine is forming an International Legion of Territorial Defense composed of foreigners who want to join the resistance against the Russian aggressors and defend global security”, Yenin said in a statement.

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While explaining the process of claiming citizenship in Ukraine, the Deputy Interior Minister said that the foreign volunteers would need to sign a contract, after which they will receive their military passport. The passport will officially replace their residence permit.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a statement last week that nearly 16,000 foreign nationals have already volunteered to fight against the Russian forces and are making their way to Kyiv. Ukrainian embassies have been helping recruit foreign fighters, some without any military training, according to reports from CNN.