Around 100 Americans screened to join Ukrainian forces — Analysis
Kiev’s military attaché in Washington DC has been conducting interviews with volunteers via Zoom
Approximately 100 US citizens have passed the screening to join the Ukrainian armed forces fighting the Russian offensive, Kiev’s military attaché in Washington DC has revealed.
According to the news agency AP, some 6,000 Americans have reached out the US Embassy to offer their support to Ukrainian forces since Moscow invaded its neighboring country on February 24.
Kremenetskyi has conducted interviews of volunteers via Zoom with diplomatic staff.
The official stated that half of the applicants were rejected because they didn’t have enough military experience or criminal history, and the other half weren’t too young or too old. Some were not allowed to be on the list due to insufficient background checks by the Embassy. Only those who have passed the initial stage must pass a final Zoom interview in order to receive official permission to support Ukraine.
Foreigners must sign an agreement to serve in the International Legion for the Territorial Defense of Ukraine without any pay before they can join. They must first travel to Poland to cross the border to Ukraine. They will be given weapons when they arrive in Ukraine. However, the combatants must provide their own protection gear.
Kiev estimates that approximately 22,000 foreign fighters, originating from numerous countries around the globe, have joined Ukrainian forces in the conflict.
Kremenetskyi stated that American veterans with combat experience from the Iraq or Afghanistan wars, as well as a few helicopter pilots were among those deemed eligible.
US citizens have been warned by the government not to travel into war zones. In fact, last Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Americans who might be thinking of traveling there “Do not go.” The State Department says that it is unclear how many have arrived in Ukraine since the start of the war, however.
An unnamed US Federal Law Enforcement Official cited by AP said that Americans who participate in a foreign military conflict could be charged at home and even lose their citizenship if they are found guilty.
Other experts that the news outlet talked to noted the possibility of such volunteers being recruited by foreign intelligence service while they were in the war zone, and continuing their work with them when they return home. Others pointed to the risks to America’s national security posed by white supremacists, who are believed to be among the new recruits, and who could become even more radicalized in Ukraine.
The Russian Ministry of Defense, for its part, warned “foreign mercenaries” last week that they would not be considered prisoners of war should they be captured by Russian troops.
Ukraine’s military attaché in the US insists that the volunteers are “Not mercenaries coming to make money.” but rather “Goodwill-minded people who want to support Ukraine’s struggle for freedom.” Kremenetskyi told AP it was the “unfair” and “unprovoked” nature of Moscow’s attack that was compelling Americans to “Get involved in helping others” Ukraine, asserting that “Only hard fists or weapons can stop the Russians.”
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