Russia Warns Western Volunteers as Ukrainian Foreign Legion Reportedly Grows

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The influx of possibly thousands of Western volunteers who are trying to enter Ukraine to fight Russian soldiers received a dire warning from Moscow.

“None of the mercenaries the West is sending to Ukraine to fight for the nationalist regime in Kyiv can be considered as combatants in accordance with international humanitarian law or enjoy the status of prisoners of war,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian state media outlet TASS on Thursday.

Konashenkov alleged that fighters from other countries were involved in attacking Russian assets inside Ukraine, including supply convoys and aircraft. He did not elaborate.

“At best, they can expect to be prosecuted as criminals. We are urging all foreign citizens who may have plans to go and fight for Kyiv’s nationalist regime to think a dozen times before getting on the way,” Konashenkov said.

Across social media, a number of Americans, Canadians, and others said they wanted to go to Ukraine to fight.

Some users on a sub-Reddit called “VolunteersforUkraine” claimed that they reached the Poland–Ukraine border but ultimately turned around after Ukrainian officials said they had to sign a three-year contract to fight. The Epoch Times could not immediately verify the accuracy of their claims, and the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has not responded to a request for comment.

Russian military spokesman Igor Konashenkov
File photo of Russia’s defence ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov (R) and the Chief of the Main Rocket and Artillery Department Lt. Gen. Nikolai Parshin at a press briefing in Moscow on Sept. 17, 2018. (Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images)

In late February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a plea on social media for foreigners to fight in Ukraine. And during a news conference on Thursday, Zelensky claimed that 16,000 have volunteered. The Epoch Times could not independently verify his claims.

“Ukraine receives weapons from its partners on a daily basis,” Zelensky said Thursday. “From real friends. More and more powerful weapons every day. Ukraine is already meeting foreign volunteers who are going to our country. The first of 16,000. They are going to defend freedom. Defend life. For us. For all. And it will be successful. I’m sure.”

Amid the pleas, the White House on Wednesday recommended that Americans not go to Ukraine to fight.

“Ukrainians have shown their courage and they are calling on every resource and lever they have to defend themselves. We applaud their bravery, however our travel advisory remains. U.S. citizens should not travel to Ukraine,” deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a news conference when asked about whether the White House supports Americans fighting in Ukraine.

The U.S. Department of State has a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” warning for Ukraine in effect for the conflict and COVID-19.

Jack Phillips


Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.

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