Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a decree enabling foreign nationals to serve in the Russian military.
The January 2 decree allows Russian-speaking foreigners aged 18-30 to sign up for five-year service contracts with the Russian armed forces, Interior Ministry troops, or the state firefighting service.
Military analysts said that until now, foreign nationals had to receive Russian citizenship or special documentation in order to serve in the Russian military.
Most foreign soldiers currently serve on their home territory outside of Russia, which has large military bases in Armenia and Tajikistan and a military presence in other parts of the former Soviet Union including Trasndniester in Moldova and the Moscow-backed breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia.
The decree, however, suggests that foreign soldiers may now be sent abroad in "wartime" situations.
The decree does not appear to be directly ties to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where Moscow denies it has sent troops to fight alongside pro-Russian separatists.