At least 16,000 foreign nationals have volunteered to join an “international legion” created to resist Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed, after Kiev lifted visa requirements for anyone willing to fight.
“Every friend of Ukraine who wants to join Ukraine in defending the country, please come over,” Zelensky pleaded at a recent press conference, adding “We will give you weapons.”
Though the president offered no details on the international fighting force, including the origin of the volunteers, the request comes as Kiev appears to grow more desperate for help in pushing back Russian troops – having already declared martial law and a “general mobilization” of its populace. Those policies include conscription for men aged 18-60 and the commandeering of civilian vehicles and structures, while Ukrainian convicts with military experience are being released from prison to back up the war effort.
Despite the lack of specifics from officials, however, media reports suggest that foreigners from a long list of nations are lining up to enlist.
A Call To Arms
Around 400 Swedes have signed up for the legion, according to the country’s TT News Agency, which cited the group’s coordinator Philip Brannval. The first flight departed Thursday for Poland – thought to be a logistics hub for arms and aid deliveries – and from there the volunteers will enter Ukraine by land, Brannval said.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, meanwhile, announced on Thursday that the government would not punish those seeking to join up with Ukrainian forces, as the country typically prohibits citizens from serving in foreign armies. Up to 300 Czechs have reportedly vowed to ship out.
Prague, unlike non-aligned Stockholm, is among NATO’s 30 member states.
The Czech government is also now moving to criminalize speech supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin or the Russian invasion. Czech police report that they are already investigating hundreds of people for alleged support for Moscow, with criminal proceedings in nine cases.
A small handful of American, Canadian and German special forces veterans are also set to join the fight, according to interviews by BuzzFeed News. The outlet noted the group – numbering just 10 people in total – is “NATO-trained and experienced in close combat and counterterrorism.” A pair of retired American infantry officers will also fly over to provide “leadership” for the squad, while several other US and Canadian citizens also told Reuters they intend to answer Zelensky’s call.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly told reporters over the weekend that Ottawa would leave the decision to fight up to individual citizens. The US State Department, however, continues to urge Americans to avoid travel to Ukraine amid the hostilities.
Like Canada, the UK’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she would “support” British nationals heading out for Ukraine, but added, “that is something that people can make their own decisions about.” Speaking with Insider, two UK vets said they intend to join the Georgian National Legion, which has close ties with Kiev and has clashed with Russian-speaking fighters in the breakaway Donbass region.
“Since the UK parliament has said that we’ll back anyone that goes, that’s kind of like the UK government giving anyone a green light to go and help,” one veteran told Insider.
Japan, a close partner with the West, has also seen at least 70 citizens volunteer, among them 50 veterans of the country’s Self-Defense Forces and two from the French Foreign Legion. However, Ukraine’s Japanese Embassy stressed that any candidates must have military experience or, at minimum, “specialized training.” Tokyo, too, has warned against travel to Ukraine.
Having received requests from “several veterans” on how to join the international brigade, the Military Times has published a step-by-step guide for those looking to face down Russian troops. Kiev’s British Embassy, meanwhile, also offered advice, telling volunteers to fill out an online form before taking a flight to Poland, where it said they would receive additional instructions.
It remains unclear who will command the foreign force, whether they will receive training before deployment, or how long they will be expected to serve.
An unspecified number of fighters are also arriving from neighboring states such as Georgia and Belarus, the Washington Post reported. Citing a Chechen activist in Ukraine, war correspondent Elijah Magnier said “two battalions” of Chechen fighters are already on the ground in the country and prepared to resist the Russian advance. The unconfirmed report comes after Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov – a close ally to Putin – said he mobilized thousands of troops to fight on behalf of Moscow.
Russia, for its part, has warned of stiff consequences for any foreign nationals looking to support Ukraine, vowing to criminally prosecute any fighters captured while arguing that international rules for POWs would not apply to them.
“None of the mercenaries the West is sending to Ukraine to fight for the nationalist regime in Kiev can be considered as combatants in accordance with international humanitarian law or enjoy the status of prisoners of war,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Thursday, as cited by Tass.
The droves of foreign fighters pouring into Ukraine are reminiscent of Afghanistan in the 1980s – when countless militants from across the region lined up to battle the Red Army – and more recently Iraq, Syria and Libya. In the latter cases, those willing to travel and fight were largely ideologically motivated and often far more brutal than the local opposition forces.
In the meantime, current and former US officials, such as ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have made vocal calls to arm up a Ukrainian “insurgency,” suggesting Washington and its allies send weapons and gear to “volunteers” while making a direct comparison to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. A deluge of weapons shipments has already begun to flow.
Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of Antiwar.com and news editor of the Libertarian Institute. Will Porter is the assistant news editor of the Libertarian Institute and a staff writer at RT. Kyle and Will host Conflicts of Interest along with Connor Freeman.
53 thoughts on “Foreign Volunteer Fighters Arrive in Ukraine to Repel Russian Invasion”
Clinton made her case during a Monday night appearance with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, recalling that during the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s, resistance fighters “had a lot of countries supplying arms and advice,” which, she continued, “didn’t end well for the Russians.”
Yes, dear witch, and it didn’t end well for the citizens of Afghanistan either. But that’s really big of you to want that same plight for the Ukrainians. I’d really like to use the “C” word for her, and I don’t mean Clinton. Although they are synonymous.
God, yes, send her!
Hillary has combat experience since she is one of the few that survived Serbian sniper fire in Sarajevo.
LOL I remember that.
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I remember that too.
My thoughts precisely. The goal is not to save Ukraine. It is to weaken Russia. The citizens of Ukraine are considered expendable. If they ever realize how they are being used, the blow back could be horrendous.
Ukrainians won’t. They had to make a decision the first day.
Its like COVID; lockdowners, maskers, and vaxxers will never and can never admit they were wrong because the up-front cost in pride is too high.
Its easier to blame the propaganda-non compliant.
Exactly. If I recall correctly, it didn’t end very well for the US either.
The level of responsibility for these vile mouthpieces is non-existent; it indicates how low this country has sunk, assassination, insurgency, all from the arm chair chicken hawks without regard for consequences or legality; rule of law, jeez what a farce in the us.
Unfortunately the majority of chickenhawking warmongers will be more than happy to cheer the volunteers from their couch.
Yes, like Jesse Waters! What an A-Hole. LOL!
“None of the mercenaries the West is sending to Ukraine to fight for the nationalist regime in Kiev can be considered as combatants in accordance with international humanitarian law or enjoy the status of prisoners of war…” This is not anything to gloss over as its not trivial. Conflicts denegrate. Summary executions could happen. The snowball of hate & atrocities could form a race-to-the-bottom.
As I said: Mercenaries – Meet Chechens! They won’t have to worry about “international law”.
The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman is wrong.
If the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine are modeled after the French Foreign Legion, volunteers are part of an official Ukrainian government military organization and official Ukrainian government representatives, so have to be treated like any other official Ukrainian soldier.
That was part of the point of incorporating the neo-Nazi militiamen into the armed forces, to impart protection under the laws of war.
I rather doubt the Chechens will give a rat’s ass.
Check again. Russia is a stickler for international law.
Unless you know the provisions, there seems to be no limits under international law against officially sanctioned foreign fighters.
African nations have used international mercenaries for years, not just as infantry and special forces but jet fighter pilots.
Ukraine is just taking the unusual step of hiring anyone including total amateurs, likely for propaganda effect.
They seem to recall the old Communist-sponsored International Brigades of the Spanish War.
Didn‘t We fill Guantanmo and Abu Grabe (sp?) with ‘unlawful enemy combatants ?’ Didn’t DOJ also argue that these ‘unlawful enemy combatants’could be tortured and had no rights at all ?
“repel the Russian invasion”
HAHAHAHAHA! God luck with that!
Mercenaries – meet Chechens!
Any former soldiers joining this waste of everyone’s time better realize they’re going to take a dirt nap and never collect the $100K or whatever they’re supposedly getting paid. Better get it up front.
Actually, as someone elsewhere said, these guys will cross the border, look around, pocket their checks and disappear.
I think this is the emotionally charged pink and purple hair regiment. No matter, in time they’ll find out they were bamboozled by Zelensky.
This sounds like it’s shaping up to be a total clown show. They should all be marching to Monty Python music. The morons encouraging this should be leading them into battle. Hillary take the point position.
No, Biden take points, Hillary brings up the rear – and she has plenty of rear to bring.
And the teeth! Just look at those teeth!! Hee Haw!
Big enough to land a helicopter on.
Russia killed thousands of foreign volunteers in Syria. In fact in Ukraine killing a foreign volunteer as opposed to a Ukrainian soldier might be preferred.
Volunteer fighters? You mean those deciding to go illegally into Syria against the elected government the USA did not like?
yes, those are the very guys
Zelensky drafted Ukrainian men from 18 on up and armed them. Essentially he turned his citizens into armed combatants / targets.
A stupid high school dropout, whose main line of work is comedian. Perfect. Worse, he is listening to us.
Letting lots of prisoners free and armed, plus mercenaries from anywhere is sure to make conditions worse.Great for the USA which wants to bog down Russia and not let the Nazis be destroyed.
That kind of mass draft is not unusual in wartime.
Yep so they Ukrainian men are no longer civilians.
Levee en masse. Fuzzy area of law; they still need to follow the laws of war, though they are not likely to know or understand them.
Shades of Spains’ pre WWII Lincoln Brigades that fought for the Royalist against Nazi Backed Franco.
Lincoln Brigade got its ass kicked Hard.
US and allies from NATO , S America’s Columbian and El Salvador ( HIGHEST AWARDS OF AFGHAN war, to S America’s poorest nations are larger paid Mercenary , so large they are larger than most nations standing Armies and old Black water new title has own Naval and airforce.
VIRGINIA USA is main base for worlds security agencies, so many they are called Atmy of Virginia.
At times contracts through US State department was in tens of billions for their Services.. Not very many men are fighting for Ideals higher than Hoe many In God we trust can be made.
Yet I have known amen who liked to kill and enjoyed military style structures that honored such trtraits.
Grown ups not satisfied by war video games they wanted live targetsI.
Chechen vs chechen!!! Dudaev is spinning in his grave.
If they do not fight in Ukrainian uniforms the Russians may consider them franc-tireurs.
From a post over at Martyanov’s blog:
https://vz.ru/news/2022/3/4/1147053.html [in Russian] Supposedly has a video of his soldiers’ encampment.
These guys sound motivated…
Gee, just like the volunteers that streamed into Panama, Grenada and the other “places” we have attacked to repel our attacks. Not.
I am not a fan of Putin, but really, it shows things in a new perspective. It was no wonder Putin felt surrounded.
GoldSmith has a great video that explains what his mindset might have been before the invasion (hoping it runs OK, without ads): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6hIlfHWaGU
The governments that are permitting – or encouraging! – these volunteers have to know that they will be joining a hopeless effort and that many are likely to be killed, maimed or captured. It seems likely that they want those things to happen, because of the propaganda value. Our noble leaders at work.
Once these 16,000 enter the arena, Russians will lock the door behind them and the true test of these international gladiators begin.
I just read the post you have from WP (no comments possible) describing USA’s providing lethal “aid” for years and especially recently to Ukraine (which “responsible government”, I wonder?). It shows the complete validity of Russia’s fears of attack by NATO/USA which the “defensive alliance” has been rubbishing for fifteen years, since the 2007 speech by Pres. Putin at Munich. Security for the 30 but NONE for the one you insist is an enemy but is NOT the threat at all.
Well soldiers are brain dead anyway otherwise they wouldn`t join the military , i wish the Russina military well and hope they wipe out the mercanaries along with the NAZI Ukraine military.
Well I glad I’m so poor I don’t pay taxes here in Amerika. Amerika govt. has plenty of money to pay these morons but no money for us on Main Street.
The same mercs who were in Ottawa not long ago????
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