Ukrainian forces say Russians are using airborne forces to destroy military and civilian infrastructure
More than 20,000 volunteers and veterans from 52 countries have expressed a desire to join their international legion and fight for Ukraine’s defense, an official at Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said last week. CNN’s Jim Sciutto and his team met some of these volunteers in Ukraine.
Their resumes range from combat experience to no military training whatsoever.
Brian, a 25-year-old Minnesota resident, served with the US Marines in Okinawa, Japan for two years and volunteered to fight with and for Ukrainians.
“I’m a US Marine. If I have to die to help these people, I will,” he told CNN.
Oskar, a volunteer from Sweden, has no formal military training.
“We are here to help people. Hopefully it’s over before we reach the front lines before we have to fire a bullet or save someone with medical resources. This is the best for everyone. But when it comes down to it, we’ll be there,” he said.
All volunteers receive training. While many can contribute on the battlefield, others may never see combat.
David, a 33-year-old Canadian, said he could help fix tires to keep Ukrainian military vehicles on the road.
“If it’s black and round and made of rubber, I can fix it.
However, arming thousands of people is not without risks.
“They could be dangerous,” said Roman, a man who checks the background of all foreign volunteers. “We’re trying to verify her bio, trying to verify her past as best we can.”
And Ukraine needs not only field fighters. Volunteers with experience in combat medicine are also urgently needed.
That brought Sky Barkley, a US Marine and missionary, to Ukraine along with six other Americans. Barkley said this war is not like an insurgency or even fighting ISIS.
“I mean, we’re talking about the sheer volume of missiles being fired across the country, the ability of the Russians to reach hundreds and hundreds of miles and kill from that distance,” he told CNN.
Part of Barkley’s team is Missouri native Maddie Hayes, who served as a nurse in Iraq.
“I just have a heart for these people. I really want to help them. I don’t see my life as more valuable than her life,” she said.
Sciutto reports that the training that the Ukrainian military can provide to foreign volunteers is limited — volunteers receive three to 14 days of basic training, and it’s not a short-term commitment. Those who volunteer to fight are asked to volunteer in Ukraine for a year.
Ukrainian officials have made it clear that this is “not a call for adventurers or weekend warriors,” but “serving service against a massive and ruthless invading army,” reports Sciutto.
Just last week, the State Department warned Americans who travel to Ukraine and fight with Ukrainian forces in the ongoing war will be treated by Russians as “mercenaries” or foreign combatants, Russians said, putting them at greater risk of abuse.
US citizens could also be prosecuted, arrested or killed by Russia for fighting for Ukraine in the war, State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a briefing on Friday, adding that the US is also not in the Will be able to evacuate American citizens from Ukraine any point.
Check out Jim Sciutto’s report: