Conflicts & War

International volunteers risk their lives for Ukraine’s resistance

By Luis Lidón

Kyiv, Jun 17 (EFE).- International volunteers are putting their life on the line to join Ukraine’s resistance against the Russian invasion.

The International Legion of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, set up by president Volodymr Zelenskyy shortly after Moscow launched its offensive, has drawn comparisons with the International Brigades who fought for Republican Spain during the Civil War.

Damien Magrou, a Norwegian lawyer, polyglot and spokesman for the Legion, agrees to an extent.

“There are a lot of parallels between Spain in the 30s and Ukraine in 2022 and I think you could say it is a democratic country fighting for its freedom against an invading fascist army,” he tells Efe in Kyiv.

“The main difference is that we are intending on winning this war as opposed to the International Brigades,” he adds.

The Legion comprises volunteers, both men and women, from around 55 countries.

The majority are from the United States, the United Kingdom, Poland, Canada and the Baltic and Nordic nations, according to Magrou, who did not reveal how many combatants are part of the unit.

“All of our legionnaires sign a contract with the Ukrainian Armed Forces and are fully fledged members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” Magrou says.

The servicemen are treated exactly like Ukrainians and receive the same salary, same rights, follow the same disciplinary rules as well as face the same difficulties.

Magrou says that all units face a shortage of equipment such as protective goggles and protection systems and that at the beginning of the war, there was a lot of “disorganization.”

Although this has now improved, the Ukrainian army still needs more equipment and heavy weaponry, Magrou says.

“We need a lot more heavy weaponry (…) we need them yesterday,” he adds.

“Ukrainian soldiers die everyday because we don’t have these weapons now (…) they are the only way we make sure that Ukraine is free.”

While Magrou will not accept anything but victory in this war, he admits that the Ukrainian army is “vastly outnumbered” by the Russians.

“Every day that goes by is a waste of time and lives,” he says.

Last week, three foreigners fighting captured by pro-Russian forces were sentenced to death by a court in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) for carrying out “mercenary activities.”

The court case was internationally dismissed as a “shame trial” with experts warning that executing the three prisoners — two Brits and a Moroccan national — would be against the Geneva Convention.

Magrou says the only soldiers carrying out mercenary activities were on the Russian side and that this was a “farcical trial” as part of Russia’s campaign against foreign fighters in Ukraine.

“When foreigners come to Ukraine, they are already prepared to take the biggest risks,” he says. EFE

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