“Cowards” – Ukraine: Many volunteers lay down their arms

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“Cowards” – Ukraine: Many volunteers lay down their arms

They have fought in Afghanistan or Iraq, and yet many volunteer foreign fighters are shocked by the brutality of the war in Ukraine. “Sometimes after the first clashes they say, ‘We are not prepared for that’ and go home,” one of the volunteers, named Polak, told AFP.

“To be honest, there are quite a few cowards out there,” Polak said, speaking at a supermarket cafe in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, about his experiences in the International Legion for the Defense of Ukraine. His nationality must be kept secret for his own protection. He estimates the number of foreign fighters at “perhaps several hundred”. The volunteers come from many different countries, including “Canadians, Georgians, Croats”. Apparently they are not trained for a war with artillery fire.

Some legionnaires have already died in action
The deaths of a German, a Dutchman, a Frenchman and an Australian recently showed how dangerous volunteering is. The pro-Russian separatists have also sentenced to death two Britons and a Moroccan who fought for Ukraine. Since the invasion began, Russian forces have killed “hundreds” of foreign fighters, Moscow said in early June.

Legionnaire reported: “The worst he’s ever seen”
International Legion spokesman Damien Magrou of France admits that foreign fighters – many of them from NATO countries – have been surprised by the brutality of the warfare. “An American who has fought in six wars told me this was the worst he had ever seen,” the 33-year-old reported. “Rockets, bombings – on the ground it’s very different than you might have expected.”

Between 10 and 30 percent of the recruits laid down their arms after a short time, says Magrou. “Almost all participants are former soldiers, a third of them come from an English-speaking country.” English is therefore the official language in the legion. According to the spokesperson, the rest comes mainly from Central and Eastern Europe.

The reasons for voluntary combat use are different. “Americans are fighting for freedom and Western values, while Poles say they want to defend Ukraine because they defend their country,” Magrou said.

“I wanted to come here after seeing the pictures on TV,” said Mika, a German interviewed by the AFP news agency in Kharkiv. “I was in the military and thought I could help. If we don’t stop the aggressor in Ukraine, he will invade one country after another.”

Volunteers can leave at any time
Legion volunteers sign a contract with the Ukrainian Armed Forces. However, they are free to leave at any time. Many a deployment in Ukraine brings problems in their homeland. In countries such as Italy or South Korea “you risk a lawsuit,” said spokesman Magrou. London advised British soldiers and veterans not to participate in the conflict.

Magrou himself had been working in a law firm in Kiev for two years when Russia attacked Ukraine. During the interview in the capital, he wears a military uniform and speaks French. When an older woman sees him like this, she waves at him. “We are highly valued by the Ukrainian civilian population,” said Magrou. “People feed us and thank us for our work.”

Source: Krone

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