Foreign Volunteers Unofficially Aid Ukrainian Soldiers In Irpin – Local reports reveal how an unknown number of foreign fighters continue to assist Ukrainian troops across Ukraine, including in Irpin, the Kyiv suburb that Ukrainian soldiers successfully defended against Russian forces. Many of those helping Ukrainian soldiers in the suburbs of Kyiv are not officially members of Ukraine’s Foreign Legion.
After Russian soldiers entered the town, Ukrainian soldiers – along with foreign volunteers – engaged the invading troops and pushed them back out.
Virtually all of the 70,000 residents of the region were forced out of their homes over the last month, with residential buildings left destroyed. Russians at one point over the last month controlled almost a third of the city, but have left the region completely in the last week.
Ukrainian reporter Illia Ponomarenko wrote on Friday night that the “urban ruins of the Battle of Kyiv contain many secrets” and that with the help of volunteer fighters, the region has not only fought off Russian troops but has maintained a “buzzing underworld.”
“The variety of foreign legionnaires is wide-ranging – from yesterday’s military elite to untrained dreamers willing to join Ukraine’s much-romanticized fight against the world’s second military,” Ponomarenko writes, adding that volunteer formations maintain a “very equal position” among other fighters.
While more than 20,000 applications were filed from foreign fighters to join Ukraine’s Foreign Legion by mid-March – with applications coming from Britain, Canada, the United States, Georgia, Belarus, and Poland – some volunteers have reportedly joined paramilitary formations “beyond the international legion.”
“Some have joined volunteer paramilitary formations beyond the International Legion, like the group lying low among the ruined houses of Irpin,” Ponomarenko explains. “Some, including those who served in the military a long time ago, have had to get used to holding weapons again, or even learning basic fighting skills.”
Ukraine Temporarily Halts New Recruitment to Foreign Legion
Five weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the nation’s government has temporarily halted all new recruitments to its foreign legion. Government sources say that many countries have banned their own citizens from enlisting, and large numbers of those volunteering to help have no military experience.
A spokesman from the International Legion for the Territorial Defence of Ukraine said that the Ukrainian parliament will work to address some of these issues in coming days, and will potentially consider granting Ukrainian citizenship to any volunteers who lose citizenship of their home country for fighting overseas.
“There are multiple reasons (for halting recruiting) with one of them being the lack of firearms,” the spokesman said. “Our parliament, Verkhovna Rada, would be voting this Friday on some positions (related to) the International Legion and based on that vote we would be able to proceed.”
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.