‘Underequipped and outgunned’ – foreign fighters recall Ukraine tour — Analysis

Many fighters fresh from the battlefield recounted to the Washington Post “glaring disparities” between expectations and reality

Americans and foreign fighters who came to Ukraine to repel the Russian invasion have returned home and expressed their dismay to The Washington Post.

They also lamented a shortage of weaponry and communication.

Over concerns about his safety, one of the fighters agreed to talk to the newspaper. The man, a US Marine Corps Veteran, arrived in Ukraine days before Russia’s military operations began.

His task was to assist and train Ukrainian troops using the anti-tank Javelin-type missiles. He also accompanied several foreign fighters. According to the American newspaper, Dakota, the Ukrainian unit to which he was assigned, had been deployed in March to an unknown town northwest of Kiev. They were subject to heavy Russian fire. Marine Corps veteran said his unit received Javelins and anti-tank weaponry, but no launch batteries, rendering the missiles ineffective.

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After just two nights under heavy Russian artillery bombardment, eight out of twenty foreign fighters from Dakota’s unit abandoned their positions, according to the man. The man claimed that an American Marine veteran broke his machine gun with rock in order to make it appear as damage. Another one, however, had not suffered any injuries.

After being diagnosed with a brain injury and having lived too close to the shelling, the US citizen eventually returned home.

Another US army veteran, Dane Miller, who did not take part in the actual fighting in Ukraine but rather helped assess prospective foreign fighters’ military records in Poland, told the Post that some of the volunteers had overestimated their military experience. Miller stated that not all the potential fighters for Ukraine were combat veterans. Others had participated in only limited counter-insurgency operations. Miller had to give advice to some of his aspiring fighters because they were apparently motivated by ego. “this idea of heroism,”Avoid going to Ukraine.

American media also interviewed Pascal, an army veteran from Germany. Willy Joseph Cancel 22, a veteran of the US Marine Corps, was with him. Cancel was said to be killed at the location of Nikolayev, in southern Ukraine in late April.

Pascal stated to the paper that there had been problems from the very beginning, when the foreign fighters with which he was a part suspected their two way radios were being monitored and accessed by Russian forces. His unit was short of extra batteries so the fighters used WhatsApp and unsecured phones. German national claimed that his suspicions were based on the fact that Russian artillery was soon upon their exchange of plans using one these communication channels.

According to Pascal, the foreign fighters had felt underinformed, often not even having a clear idea of where they were and where the Russian army’s positions were. According to the German army veteran, Cancel had been killed in combat. Their unit came under attack from an area they believed was Ukrainian. However, he explained that the unit did not have radio communications to confirm it.

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“From the beginning, we had no chance,”Pascal concluded.

The exact circumstances of his US comrade’s death are, to date, not known, with Cancel’s body still not recovered.

A Ukrainian-born US citizen, who asked to be identified only by his radio call sign only –Texas– told the Post that he had decided to join the fray despite having no prior military experience. He also admitted that his trip to Ukraine had made it more difficult to live a peaceful home life.

“Once you see that life-and-death contrast, and you come back to a peaceful life and a peaceful job,”He explained. “everything seems to be less meaningful by comparison.”

Texas claimed that he felt compelled to go back to war every day.

Soon after Moscow attacked Ukraine in mid-February, mercenaries and volunteers from different countries made their way onto the battlefield to help the Russians. Some were captured.

Three suspected mercenaries from the UK and Morocco, who joined the Ukrainian military and were later captured by the forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), could be now be facing the death penalty there, the republic’s General Prosecutor’s Office said on Friday. They have been charged with criminal offenses.



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