MESOP MIDEAST WATCH INTEL:  Ukrainian government issues call for volunteers to join ‘International Legion’


SENIOR UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS, including the president, vice president and foreign minister, have begun issuing open calls for foreign volunteers to go to Ukraine and form an international armed brigade. A number of Ukrainian ambassadors around the world are reporting that groups of foreign volunteers are already en route to Ukraine.

Others are said to be answering calls to form a pro-Ukrainian ‘cyber army’.

Early on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video statement posted on social media that “all citizens of the world, friends of Ukraine, peace and democracy” should “come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals”. He added that such an act would be “key evidence” of foreigners’ support for Ukraine, and that his government would arm all international volunteers. President Zelensky concluded his message by urging those interested in going to Ukraine to fight should contact the defense attachés at the Ukrainian embassies in their respective countries.

Later that evening, Ukrainian Minster of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that Ukraine had officially formed the International Legion of [the] Territorial Defense of Ukraine. The new body would be open to “foreigners willing to defend Ukraine and [the] world order” from Russian attacks, said Kuleba. The BBC later quoted Ukraine’s Ambassador to London, Vadym Prystaiko, as saying that “overwhelming” numbers of foreign nationals were “demanding to be allowed to fight” in Ukraine. In a message posted on Facebook (later deleted), the embassy of Ukraine in Israel said on Sunday that it had “begun forming lists of [Israeli] volunteers who wish to participate in combat actions against the Russian aggressor”.

That same afternoon, Britain’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Liz Truss, said in an interview with the BBC that it was up to individual British citizens to make their own decisions about whether to go to Ukraine and fight, “not just for Ukraine, but for the whole of Europe”. Also on Sunday, BuzzFeed reported that a multinational group of one German, six American and three British citizens were already heading to Ukraine, in hopes of being “among the first to officially join the new International Legion of the Territorial Defense of Ukraine”. They told BuzzFeed that two other Americans with military experience were on their way to Ukraine to provide “leadership” for the international group of fighters.


In an interview on Sunday, Ukraine’s charge d’affaires in Canberra, Volodymyr Shalkivskyi, said his office had been in contact with “a number” of Australians who were interested in joining the International Legion. He cautioned, however, that going to Ukraine to fight was “a very serious question so it’s not about going for adventure”. He added that the Ukrainian embassy did not wish to violate Australian legislation in regards to mercenary activities. Shalkivskyi said his embassy would “consider the law” in cooperation with the Australian government, “before taking further steps”.

Earlier in the weekend, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister, Olha Stefanishyna, and Digital Transformation Minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, issued an open call for the formation of a “volunteer cyber army” to fight for Ukraine. The call was issued via the Telegram social media app. Fedorov claimed that over 175,000 people had already shown interest in joining the initiative, and “multiple tasks” had already been assigned to them. Wired News reports that one method of communication among those interested is the IT Army channel on Telegram, whose members have already begun launching cyber-attacks on Russia and Belarus.

► Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 27 February 2022 |