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Thousands of Americans Volunteering to Fight in Ukraine

Americans volunteering Ukraine
Traffic signs using expletives showing Russians where they can go are popping up all over Ukraine. American volunteers are now fighting in territorial defense battalions in the effort to defend Ukraine after the Russian invasion. Credit: Twitter/Shaun Walker

Thousands of Americans are volunteering to fight in Ukraine after the Russian invasion of the country, with approximately 100 of them accepted so far into its own military, a Ukrainian military official said this week.

Major General Borys Kremenetskyi told the Associated Press that the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., has received requests from about 6,000 individuals who are mostly American citizens, to volunteer for service since the invasion began. Those people who have been accepted up until now have past combat or helicopter piloting experience, the general noted.

Other sources say that there are at least 16,000 foreigners who are already part of a unit fighting on the ground in the country, with more set to join them.

Americans volunteering in Ukraine placed in territorial defense forces

Meanwhile, an unnamed State Department official told interviewers from the CBS affiliate television station KENS5 in San Antonio that the US is discouraging such activities. “We encourage all Americans not to travel to Ukraine right now and we encourage all Americans in Ukraine to leave the country now, since it is not safe.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has already announced that all foreign fighters in Ukraine would be treated as mercenaries and would not be protected under international law.

Related: Russia CLaims Ukraine Staged Attack on Maternity Hospital

The numbers, which many do not find surprising considering the tidal wave of support for Ukraine after the unprovoked aggression from Russia, shows strong support from the US for the embattled country.

A recent poll sponsored by Quinnipiac University about Americans’ opinions of the invasion showed that more than half said they would stay and fight if Russia should invade the U.S. in the way that it moved into Ukraine, according to Newsweek.

And quite a few are now walking that walk by offering themselves in defense of the nation in the European heartland that finds itself under siege.

Men as old as 73 have offered their services for Ukraine

“This is not mercenaries who are coming to earn money,” Kremenetskyi told the AP, adding “This is people of goodwill who are coming to assist Ukraine to fight for freedom.”

Although undoubtedly many of these Americans who want to be on the front lines of the Ukraine conflict have already traveled to Poland or other bordering countries and simply offered their services in person. But Kremenetskyi oversees the screening of all the potential American recruits who have contacted the embassy for the express intent of fighting in Ukraine.

He told reporters that half of those who volunteered were rejected outright for not having a military background or having a criminal record, among other issues.

Amazingly, some men who are 73 years of age have offered their services while others who wanted to fight for Ukraine’s freedom were the tender age of 16. Although the general did not go into detail regarding the screening process, there is a Zoom interview with applicants at some point.

Learn more: Will Sweden and Finland Scrap their Ages-long Neutrality After Ukraine Invasion?

International Legion for the Defense of Ukraine

Foreign Policy reports that the volunteers will join the International Legion for the Territorial Defense of Ukraine, which already counts at least 16,000 foreign members from nations such as Belarus, the United Kingdom, Israel and Poland, among others.

So far, Borys Wrzesnewskyj, a former member of Canada’s House of Commons who is lending a hand in the war efforts, told the Associated Press that approximately 1,000 Canadians have applied to fight alongside the Ukrainians.

Foreign Policy says that in order to be approved, documents showing the previous combat experience of the volunteers, along with a form stating they are fighting “without any pressure” are required. Once they receive the green light to go, they travel on their own to Poland and subsequently cross the border into Ukraine, the AP notes.

The foreign forces are less likely to have contact with Russian troops because they are assigned to a territorial defense unit, but it is still possible that they could do so.

The same Quinnipiac poll stated there is very widespread support for non-military measures such as economic sanctions and bans in the United States, with over 70 percent of respondents saying they would back the U.S. ban on Russian oil despite increasing prices.

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