Thousands of Americans join Europeans to help Ukrainian army
About 16,000 volunteers are expected to help Ukrainians repel a Russian attack that has already lasted more than a week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address on Thursday.
According to various reports, thousands of volunteers from the United States as well as others from Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Poland are ready to join the fight. As of Tuesday, Ukraine and Russia had suffered around 1,500 military deaths each, according to the New York Times.
The United Nations data indicates that there have been 331 civilian deaths since the start of the invasion and 675 injuries. Over a million Ukrainians have fled the country.
Although Ukraine has one of the largest armies in Europe with 170,000 troops on active duty and 100,000 reservists, it is outnumbered by the few 900,000 people drafted into the army of the Russian Federation.
“Ukraine daily receives weapons from its partners. Real friends. More and more powerful weapons every day,” Zelensky said. “Ukraine already meets foreign volunteers who come to our country. The first of 16,000. They will defend freedom. Defend life. For us. For all of us. And it will be successful. I am on.”
To date, the figure of 16,000 announced by Zelensky has not been confirmed, says NBC News.
Last week Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged foreign volunteers to fight for Ukraine.
According to the Facebook page of the Ukrainian Embassy in the United States, those interested can fill out a form join the new International Legion. Since Ukraine is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the United States has not yet sent troops directly to the country.
A US defense official at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington DC said it has already received more than 3,000 requests from the United States.
citizens, including the demands of many veterans, according to The Military Times.
By Thursday, several hundred volunteers had already arrived in Ukraine, a government official said.
“Ukrainian officials stress to Military Times that they are looking for foreign volunteers with combat experience who require little training before being armed and sent to the front,” the newspaper said.
While it is legal for Americans to volunteer to fight for another country, it is not legal for Ukraine to hire them.
According to NBC, “small groups of determined-looking men” were crossing the Polish-Ukrainian border on Thursday to fight the Russians and “many of the men had black tactical boots hanging from their gym bags.”
“I’m going to fight,” a 62-year-old man from Britain who identified himself as “Ian” told NBC correspondent Jay Gray. According to the license plates of the vehicles that dropped off others heading for the border, they also came from Italy and Germany.
Mathieu Dos Santos, a 34-year-old French estate agent, said he planned to leave France with a group of fellow volunteers, according to a Thursday report in the New York Times.
“I will help our fellow Europeans,” Dos Santos said. A former member of the French army, he said he did so “in continuity” with his “commitment” to the service of France.
A private facebook group French volunteers in Ukraine has more than 8,000 members.
As American and European volunteers prepare to help Ukraine, the Russians continue to attack. By Friday, Russian troops had taken control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and attacked the cities of Chernihiv, Mariupol and Kharkiv, according to CNN.