Russia's federal security services (FSB) estimate that around 2,500 Russian nationals have joined the ranks of Islamist terror organisation ISIS, state TV channel Perviy Kanal reported on Friday.
Speaking to reporters at a summit attended by Russian anti-terrorism officials and officials from other member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, FSB Deputy Chief Sergey Smirnov said some of Russia's neighbours also face urgent problems in terms of jihadist recruitment.
He said that according to FSB data, 3,000 would-be jihadis from across the central Asian region had joined ISIS. Smirnov did not clarify what role these recruits play, and it did not specify if they were actively involved in fighting alongside ISIS.
The last time FSB issued an estimate of this kind was in February, when it said that approximately 1,700 Russian nationals had joined the terror group's ranks in Iraq, according to the security service's director Alexander Bortnikov.
Russia's Ministry of Internal Affairs said at a press conference on Thursday that it believes 1,800 Russians are involved in fighting for ISIS, Russian independent news agency Interfax reports.
Russia's Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev said that prosecutors have opened criminal cases against 477 alleged jihadists and said that the majority of returning fighters moved to the Northern Caucasus region.
Russia is currently pushing to form an international coalition to fight ISIS which includes the current leadership of Syria. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's proposals for such a union have been rejected by several key players including the government of Saudi Arabia and the Syrian opposition to president Bashar Assad, who hold that the government is part of the reason that groups such as ISIS exist in the first place.Try Newsweek: Subscription offers