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Americans doing humanitarian activities in Ukraine

Still, a tall, sloppy 24-year-old woman from Thousand Oaks on the outskirts of Los Angeles did not stop flying to the war-torn capital earlier this month. He joined a new international army established to fight the Russian army for about 15 miles.Outside City.

Adam, a sports camouflage trouser, is not fascinated by his inexperience in combat. He said he would rely on a determined determination to save Ukraine and protect American values.

“Democracy and freedom are very important to the whole world,” said Adam, sitting in the lobby of a hotel in Kyiv, along with other foreigners dressed in their new military camouflage who joined his troops. Told. [Russian President Vladimir] What Putin is doing is simply wrong. And because Ukraine is vulnerable, they need help. “

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, thousands of Americans and other foreigners have signed to fight for Ukraine and responded to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call for action. Now, as the conflict enters the fourth week, more and more foreign volunteers are flowing in. Capital, signing contracts, receiving weapons, Combat training before being deployed at one of the many front lines of war.

They are compared to 32,000 foreigners, mostly Americans and Europeans, many of whom joined the Republican army during the 1936-39 civil war in Spain, as well as unprepared. It was. Nazi Germany and Benito Mussolini fascist of the Italian government.

But in Ukraine’s brutal modern war, the romance of adventure and political beliefs can quickly disappear when volunteers are hit by air bombs, grad rockets, shells, or participate in urban warfare on the streets of the city. there is.

Some of the experienced American war veterans in Afghanistan and Iraq are said to be among the applicants, but many of these applicants, such as Adam, are novices at best.

They say they share a sense of correct belief. They have seen images of civilians killed by Russian bombardment, and like those who went to Spain, they believe they are on the right side of history.

Brian, a Canadian business analyst, referred to Adam standing nearby, saying, “I have little military experience, but I am willing to fight and die from this man,” said Ukrainian relatives here. Because I am in Ukraine. “

“I was a hunter for the rest of my life. I was assigned to the sniper team here. I will kill all the Russians as much as possible,” he said using abusive words to describe the Russians. rice field.

“I’ve never killed a guy in my life … but I’m going to have fun [it].. “

All foreign volunteers interviewed for this article did not want their surnames to be used.

It remains unclear what additional usefulness the arriving foreign recruits can bring as soldiers, medical assistance, or battlefield staffing.

Also, according to interviews with five volunteers and a Georgian commander who brought Americans and other foreigners into the Ukrainian paramilitary organization, the government’s volunteer program seems to be sometimes confused. I can see it. Others have landed in the capital without contact or language, hoping someone will train them and send them to the forefront.

Foreigners, if nothing else, may serve public relations purposes, demonstrating global support for Ukraine.

“This is a way to connect people from other countries to the Ukrainian war and the consequences of the war,” said Ilmari Kaiko. Associate Professor of War Studies at the Swedish National Defense University, who studied the conflict in Ukraine. “Politics can be more important in the long run than actual military contributions.”

However, there are concerns that some of these American and other Western volunteers may be held accountable on the battlefield. If Americans are captured by Russian troops, they are Ukrainian resistance really American, and a Western conspiracy, if they are killed, it could put more pressure on the United States to retaliate.

Adam wants to get to the battlefield as soon as possible. His first choice is to become a doctor because he took a first aid class in the United States. What is his second choice?

He has no experience in either job.

Adam said he couldn’t stop watching the news for several days after the February 24 invasion, and as a Jew with dual US and Israeli citizenship, Russia’s attack on Ukraine and Israel’s He said there were similarities in the conflict with the Palestinians. He believes that both Ukraine and Israel are “under provoked attacks,” and both countries need more military support to fight their enemies.

He had a strange job at a local community college in the San Fernando Valley and had a doctoral degree in automotive technology.

Adam said he likes “guns, cars, buildings, basketball, sports, MMA”. Mixed martial arts is a sport in which fighters fight in a cage. At range, “I practice shooting and pulling moving targets. I take out the weapon and reload it.”

He said he had planned to move to Israel for months and join the Israeli Defense Forces, but he decided to stop in Ukraine first.

Adam didn’t know much about the county, but felt he knew Eastern Europe because his family was descendants of Polish and Lithuanian immigrants. He didn’t tell his parents, three sisters and brothers that he was going to fight the Russians. Instead, he told them he was going to help Ukrainian refugees entering Poland.

Adam said he did not contact the Ukrainian embassy or consulate and did not log in to its recruitment website, fightforUA.org, where foreign volunteers are supposed to register and learn about the process of joining the Ukrainian army. rice field.

“When I was already here, I only knew about fightforUA.org,” he said.

He flew to Istanbul and then to Warsaw. He drove to the border, crossed Ukraine, passed through the western city of Lviv, and finally arrived in Kyiv.

According to the Ukrainian government, as officially called, as many as 20,000 foreigners are interested in joining the Ukrainian territorial defense force. This includes an estimated 4,000 Americans, an official at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington told The Washington Post. last week.

Other volunteers said it was said that it meant that the rules of the Geneva Convention would apply if they were taken prisoner or killed, but experts said whether they would be treated as full prisoners of war. Of a state of war that states it is unknown.

Yaroslav, a Ukrainian military officer and chief organizer of the International Army of Western Ukraine, who refused to reveal his name for security reasons, said each volunteer receives the same monthly salary as a soldier, about $ 3,000. I said it would be.

There are already concerns about the international army. Volunteers complain about delays in contracts, massive paperwork, lack of rapid acquisition of weapons and training, and several days of waiting before being assigned to a battlefield unit.

“There is still a large bureaucracy in the midst of war, and those people must experience that bureaucracy,” said a paramilitary organization that has fought against Russian separatists and troops in eastern Ukraine. Said Mamka Mamurashibiri, the commander of the Georgian National Army. 8 years. “To me, it’s very amateurish.”

He said there was “a huge stream” of inexperienced Americans and foreigners wanting to fight in Ukraine, “taking someone from Brooklyn wanting to fight at the forefront I can’t. ” I’m turning my back from his power.

Yaroslav said they weren’t confused and said they had a thorough review process and only those with battlefield experience were allowed to fight.

“When they don’t have experience, they don’t help here. We tell them they can be volunteers for something else.”

Foreigners can also join other Ukrainian militias, which have lower participation requirements and allow volunteers to leave more easily for family or work reasons. Everything, not just bullets and bombs, can face risks on the battlefield. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov recently described foreign volunteers as “mercenaries” and said they could be “cursed as criminals” if caught.

Legally, Americans can participate in wars in other countries, but the Biden administration has prevented veterans and other Americans from joining the Ukrainian army, and they are already in that country. If so, I urged him to leave.

Another volunteer, Kelso, didn’t listen. A Montana-born construction worker quit his job after seeing the news that “innocent civilians were directly targeted and attacked.” Foreign volunteers.

He said he had served in the U.S. military for four years after graduating from high school, but had never seen a fight. “This is my first war,” Kelso said.

He registered on the Ukrainian government’s job site and filled out a form, but did not receive a reply for days. “I’m not going to wait for an email reply while someone is dying,” he said.

So, saving some money, he paid $ 700 for a one-way flight to Poland. He had warm clothes, sleeping bags, medicines, pictures of his family, and bulletproof vests donated by his friends. When he arrived at the border, he arrived at the border. He said he was connected to the people of the International Army.

“I believe God is on our side here. We are on the good side. What the Russians have brought is pure evil.”

Another volunteer stood right next to me.Among them the German said He served in Afghanistan for four and a half months with the German army, which was part of NATO security forces there. And he was a veteran of the British Army and his grandfather in Scotland who said he fought against YPG, or the People’s Defense Units, mainly the Kurdish People’s Defense Units, and the Islamic State of Syria.

Some have been waiting for nearly 10 days for contracts and other paperwork to be approved.

Rob, 61, Edinburgh’s grandfather, said Zelensky was “welcome here and ready to go armed. We should be at the forefront. Young Ukrainians dying at this time. And we are here. “

“I came here to fight for Ukraine,” Rob said.

Adam does not tell his mother that he is part of the combat unit, despite her concerns about his well-being expressed in WhatsApp’s message.

“I don’t have to ruin her spiritual side now. I have a mission here,” Adam said.

A few minutes later, I heard an air raid warning from Adam’s phone app and displayed the message “Unreadable” in Ukrainian. “But I know there is a missile somewhere.”

Adam was angry and emotional when he was contacted by phone on Saturday. Despite the corps guaranteeing proper review, he was now in the northern part of the capital, where a territorial defense force consisting primarily of Ukrainian civilians turned into militia.

Adam had not yet received a bulletproof vest, helmet, or weapon. And he said he could hear the sound of the bombardment.

“I’ve been here for 15 days and nothing has happened yet,” he said in a telephone interview. “I haven’t put up with it.”

“They expect me to defend the base without guns, armor, vests, helmets, or knowledge of Ukrainian,” he continued. A missile with no guns. If I’m going to die, I want to be at the forefront and do it. “

So he was now about to join another unit near the front line.

Adam said he intends to be as close as possible to the city of Irpin at the northern end of Kyiv. This is an unstable battle zone where three journalists have recently been killed.

“I’ve got this far on my own. I’m fine,” he said.

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