'20,000 foreign volunteers in Ukraine to fight Russians'

Ukrainian minister says Kyiv needs US 'in this exercise, with special focus on air defence'

AFP March 07, 2022
Service members of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces take part in tactical drills at a training ground in an unknown location in Ukraine, in this handout picture released February 18, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

Some 20,000 international volunteers have traveled to Ukraine to join in the fight against invading Russian forces, a top Ukrainian official said Sunday.

"This number is around 20,000 now. They come from many European countries mostly," Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told US broadcaster CNN.

"Many people in the world hated Russia and what it was doing in recent years, but no one dared to openly oppose and fight them," he said.

"So when people saw that Ukrainians are fighting, that Ukrainians are not giving up, many felt motivated to join the fight" and bring Russia to account for its invasion.

But while Ukraine's top diplomat said he understood the desire of foreigners to contribute on the ground, it was most important to receive "sustainable, political, economic and military support" from around the world.

Also read: Ukraine forms 'international brigade' to fight Russia

"And we need US leadership in this exercise, with special focus on air defence," Kuleba said.

Late last month, at the start of the invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky openly invited foreigners to his country to form part of an "International Legion" that would fight side by side with Ukrainians against the Russians.

Volunteers were invited to apply at Ukrainian embassies in their respective countries.

Denmark has given the green light for its nationals to take up arms in Ukraine.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss gave similar permission to UK nationals, but she was contradicted Sunday by the country's head of the armed forces Admiral Tony Radakin, who said it was "unlawful and unhelpful" for Britons to fight against Russia in Ukraine.


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