Thousands of people are answering Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s pleas for “anyone” from “Europe and the world” to come and fight alongside his people against the invading Russian forces.
During a press conference on Saturday, Zelenskyy asked “every friend of Ukraine who I want to protect the country with Ukraine“To “please come here”, adding that they will be provided with weapons. “All those who are defending Ukraine are a hero,” he said.
An official declare released on Sunday presented his government’s plan to create the “International Corps for the Defense of Ukraine’s Territories,” a subdivision of the Ukrainian Army made up of stateless volunteers.
The call for foreign aid was “unprecedented in modern warfare” and “reminiscent of international involvement in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s”, said Guardians.
‘They need help’
Foreign nationals “have been fighting in Ukraine since 2014”, when Russian-backed rebels seized government buildings in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, known collectively as the Donbas, said Articles washington. But with Ukrainian embassies now “openly engaged in the recruitment of fighters”, experts say “this is a step further than ambition”, the newspaper reported.
Most of the foreign fighters currently in Ukraine are from other post-Soviet countries, such as Georgia and Belarus. But according to Time, “Hundreds of Britons” wrote to the Ukrainian embassy in the United Kingdom to volunteer after the Russian invasion. A military source told the newspaper that 150 former paratroopers who served in Afghanistan had gone to fight on the front lines.
The Independent reportedly “knows half a dozen former soldiers, first responders and civilians from countries including the Netherlands and the UK who are funding the largest land war in Europe.” since World War II”.
And News on Buzzfeed said that a group of ten veterans of special operations forces trained by Nato from Britain, the US and Germany were “preparing to enter Ukraine” from Poland to join the International Corps.
A British citizen trying to register at Ukraine’s London embassy on Monday told Sky News that he wanted to join the army because “they look like they need help. “We’re young, fit, fit men and we can help, so why not?” he added.
When asked if he had undergone any military training, he replied: “Absolutely not.”
Downing Street is divided
Foreign governments including Latvia and Denmark have supported Ukraine’s call for foreign assistance. The Ukrainian Embassy in Israel began “actively recruiting” people over the weekend, The Times of Israel reported.
But Downing Street doesn’t seem to be figuring out the UK government’s position on the issue. Speaking on BBC’s Sunday morning programme, Foreign Minister Liz Truss said she would “absolutely” support UK nationals who responded to Zelenskyy’s call. “Ukrainian people are fighting for freedom and democracy, not just for Ukraine but for Europe,” Truss told host Sophie Raworth.
However, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace later told Radio 4’s Today program that any fighter would be “in need of training .” [and] experienced” because the situation is “dangerous”.
Tobias Ellwood, Conservative Chairman of the House Defense Select Committee, also called for caution. “Please DO NOT go if you have no combat experience,” Ellwood tweeted. “You can get yourself and others to take care of you, get killed.”
A spokesman for Boris Johnson told reporters on Monday that “we fully recognize the power of feeling the British want to support the Ukrainians” in the wake of the Russian invasion, “we currently advise against going to Ukraine.”
The British Army banned soldiers and reserve troops from participating in the conflict. But according to The Times, an unnamed brigade “said he had heard that some soldiers were considering going to Awol to join the fight against Russia”.
British volunteers to fight in Ukraine could face potential legal problems.
Under the Foreign Conscription Act of 1870, it was a crime for any British citizen to fight alongside the army of a foreign power in a war with a country with which Britain was at peace. But, as The Washington Post pointed out, “the law went unused for a century, including during the Spanish Civil War”.
Jonathan Hall QC, Independent Reviewer of UK Anti-Terrorism Law, told The Independent that while fighting in Ukraine might fall under the UK definition of terrorism, “prosecution of foreign fighters against Russia” appears to be an “initiated act”, with “support for government clarity” for Ukraine.
Current foreign travel advice about Gov.uk The website states: “If you are traveling to eastern Ukraine to fight or to assist others involved in the conflict, your activities may be considered a UK counter-terrorism crime or UK laws. else and you could be prosecuted when you return to the UK.”
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/russia/955940/foreigners-travelling-ukraine-fight-russia-invasion Foreign volunteers join Ukraine’s war against Russia