More than 20,000 volunteers And the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said last week that veterans from 52 countries have expressed a desire to fight together to defend Ukraine. CNN’s Jim Sciutto and his team met with some of these volunteers in Ukraine.
Their biodata range from combat experience to the absence of military training.
Brian, a 25-year-old Minnesota resident, served two years in the U.S. Navy in Okinawa, Japan, and volunteered to fight for the Ukrainians and for them.
“I’m an American Marine. If I have to die to help these people, I will,” he told CNN.
Oscar, a Swedish volunteer, has no formal military training.
“We’re here to help people. We hope it’s over before we reach the pioneers, before we can shoot or save someone with medical facilities. That’s the best for everyone. But, if that happens, we will be,” he said.
All volunteers receive some training. While many can contribute to the battlefield, others will never watch the war.
David, a 33-year-old Canadian, said he could help repair tires to keep Ukrainian military vehicles on the road.
“If it was black and round and made of rubber, I could fix it. One of the most important things about fork tools is moving it,” he told CNN.
However, arming thousands of people is not without risks.
“They can be dangerous,” said Roman, a man who monitors the background of all foreign volunteers. “We try to check their biographies, we try to check their past as much as we can.”
And Ukraine does not just need fighters on the field. Volunteers with combat medical experience are also urgently needed.
That is what brought the American Marine and Missionary Sky Barkley to Ukraine with six more Americans. Barkley said the war was not comparable to an insurgency or a fight against ISIS.
“I mean, we’re talking about the sheer volume of missiles being fired across the country, the ability of the Russians to cross hundreds and hundreds of kilometers, and the ability to kill from that kind of distance,” he told CNN.
Maddie Hayes, a member of Barclay’s team from Missouri, worked as a nurse in Iraq.
“I have a heart for these people. I want to help them. I do not see my life as more valuable than theirs,” he said.
Sciutto says the Ukrainian military has limited training available to foreign volunteers – volunteers receive three to 14 days of basic training, and this is not a short-term commitment. Those who volunteered to fight are being asked to sign up for a one-year commitment in Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials have made it clear that this is not a “call for adventurers or weekend warriors”, but rather a “service against a massive and ruthless invading army”, Sciutto said.
It was only last week that the State Department warned Traveling Americans For Ukraine, the Russians have said that fighting with Ukrainian forces in the ongoing war will be treated by the Russians as “mercenaries” or foreign fighters, which runs the risk of mistreating them.
State Department spokesman Netflix told a news conference Friday that U.S. citizens could face criminal charges, seizures or death from Russia, and that the United States could not expel U.S. citizens from Ukraine. No point.
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