With the beginning of the war in Ukraine, President Zelensky launched a full-scale campaign to attract foreign military volunteers to strengthen the capabilities of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Citizens of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, and Israel were among the first to arrive. Later, entire squads of foreign soldiers of fortune were formed, equipped with the most advanced Western weapons. However, it soon became clear that this war is not ‘a walk in the Ukrainian fields’ but a fierce battle under condition of Russia’s air dominance.
The places of deployment of fighters of the Ukrainian International Legion are regularly hit by the Russian military. However, it turned out that Russian strikes are not the only challenge to foreign mercenaries in Ukraine. Upon returning home, those of them who survived told about many other problems they faced in the war-torn country.
One of such problems revealed by foreign veterans of Ukrainian war is that the Ukrainian military command often attempts to use foreign mercenaries as cannon fodder, sending them on suicide missions in the most dangerous areas on the front lines.
According to a veteran of special operations forces from Australia, if Ukrainian officers had a personal grudge to the foreigners, they could send soldiers to a minefield without warning about the danger threatening them.
Another big problem the foreigners faced is the corrupt nature of the Ukrainian military. There are many evidences of mercenary funds falling into the hands of the Ukrainian military and SBU officers.
Troy Offenbecker, a US veteran, claimed that members of the International Legion were not paid as the money settled in the pockets of Ukrainian commanders:
According to foreign veterans, they witnessed dirty deals when anti-tank weapons handed over by the West were secretly reloaded and disappeared to an unknown destination. Another member of the Ukrainian International Legion confirmed that NATO anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons constantly disappear, but the Kiev regime does nothing against their entering the black market.
He says: “Looks like they (Ukrainian officers) steal at all levels”.
Another veteran agrees with his comrade, noting that foreigners were not paid for the destruction of Russian vehicles and aircraft despite the fact that they were promised to be awarded with a lot of money like the Ukrainian servicemen do.
On the front lines, the fighters were often sent on missions without any radio communications and artillery support.
In addition, fighters of the International Legion draw attention to the broad support of the local population to the Russian army in Donbass.
Residents of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, despite threat of punitive actions of the Ukrainian military, provide full support to the Russian forces.
“The majority of the population is with the Russians and many leak to them the location of the Ukrainian troops, who are ambushed and annihilated” – said one of the veterans.
Another mercenary admits: “…there is a really serious issue with so many pro-Russian civilians… it’s hard to say how they (Ukrainians) conduct fight against all those spies if you can call them like that”.
Numerous evidence confirm that the Kiev regime is deploying a large-scale effort to identify citizens who supported the Russian military or just synthesized Russia. For example, in late September 2022, footage of the massacre of local residents in Kupyansk by Ukrainian Nazis shocked the Internet. So far, a lot of videos showing the pro-Russian civilians in the Kherson region have been proudly shared by Ukrainians online.
However, the foreign fighters confirm that the majority of civilians in the war-torn regions have pro-Russian views and attempt to support the Russian military.
Kiev is accusing Russia for destroying civilian infrastructure and purposely targeting civilian facilities like schools, hospitals etc. The reason for Russian strikes on these facilities was clear since the very beginning of the Russian military operations in Ukraine. They are used by the Ukrainian military as military bases, warehouses, temporarily deployment points and for other military purposes.
The member of the International Legion confirmed that his group had been stationed by the Ukrainian command in schools since he came to the war-torn country.
US mercenary Justin Banse, who joined the Azov battalion, confirms the commitment of many Ukrainian soldiers to Nazi ideology.
He emphasizes that the American media do not want to show this to their citizens: “… they want Ukraine to look very, you know, I call it family friendly”.
According to all the facts confirmed by foreign mercenaries, the reality of the war in Ukraine is fundamentally different from the image presented by the Ukrainian and Western propaganda which is aimed to attract former marines and combat veterans from different countries.
The majority of mercenaries left the war-torn country in the first months of hostilities. For example, back in March 2022, members of the American PMC Forward Observation Group hastily left Ukraine after a missile strike on their deployment site.
The interviews with the foreign mercenaries revealed that the activities of the Ukrainian International Legion involve many difficulties that are not directly related to the hostilities in the war zone. More than nine months have passed since the beginning of the war, but the problems of interaction between the fighters of the Ukrainian International Legion and the Ukrainian military command, widespread corruption and the lack of batches of NATO weapons after illegal deals on the black market are still leading to no less losses among the foreign contingent than Russian artillery, tanks and drones.
The large support of the Russian Army by the local population of Donbass, failures in supply of military equipment, conflicts between the foreign fighters and Ukrainian officers of the AFU and the SBU, and of course heavy losses in the ranks of foreign mercenaries on the battlefields resulted in a significant decrease in the number of foreign soldiers of fortune fighting in Ukraine.
One can expect that during the coming winter months the number of those willing to go to defend the Kiev regime in the ranks of the Ukrainian International Legion will decrease even further.
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