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Zelensky asks foreigners to join Ukraine army – despite security concerns overseas fighters could trigger broader conflict with Russia


Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked foreigners to join the Ukraine army – despite security concerns that overseas fighters could trigger broader conflict with Russia.

Beginning Wednesday, ‘foreigners and stateless persons’ – including American citizens – can now directly join the Ukrainian national guard, the Ukrainian president announced.

Foreign citizens who legally live in Ukraine are eligible if they choose to join voluntarily. 

Zelensky urged foreign fighters to join Ukraine’s fight against Russia when Putin‘s army first invaded back in February 2022. Foreign fighters have previously been offered as part of the International Legion.

The legion was created days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

Since then, there is an estimated 20,000 foreigners serving in Ukraine’s foreign legion – however, the exact number is unclear.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked foreigners to join the Ukraine army - despite security concerns overseas fighters could trigger broader conflict with Russia

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked foreigners to join the Ukraine army – despite security concerns overseas fighters could trigger broader conflict with Russia 

Foreign citizens who legally live in Ukraine can now join the National Guard, the military branch of the interior ministry, if they choose to join voluntarily (Pictured: Members of the Siberian Battalion of the Ukraine's Armed Forces International Legion)

Foreign citizens who legally live in Ukraine can now join the National Guard, the military branch of the interior ministry, if they choose to join voluntarily (Pictured: Members of the Siberian Battalion of the Ukraine’s Armed Forces International Legion) 

Zelenskyy urged foreign fighters to join Ukraine's fight against Russia when Putin's army first invaded back in February 2022. (Pictured: members of Ukraine's international legion. Volunteers from the US, UK, Sweden, Lithuania and Mexico have joined)

Zelenskyy urged foreign fighters to join Ukraine’s fight against Russia when Putin’s army first invaded back in February 2022. (Pictured: members of Ukraine’s international legion. Volunteers from the US, UK, Sweden, Lithuania and Mexico have joined)

Nearly two years after the war began, Ukraine is desperate for more troops to join its ranks in order to sustain its resistance against Russia. 

‘Anyone who wants to join the defense of Ukraine, Europe and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians,’ Zelensky said in 2022. 

Zelensky attempted to recruit an additional 500,000 people in December – before passing a new law decreasing the age eligibility of fighters from 27 to 25 years old.

Volunteers must meet certain criteria to be eligible, as well as pass medical and fitness tests.

In March, it was revealed that foreign fighters who joined the Ukrainian army were not able to go home until the war ends.

Officials have warned members of the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine that they will be free to leave only when the state of martial law is ended.

Would-be recruits were having second thoughts at the Polish border after being handed contracts that effectively make them conscripts, the Daily Mail revealed.

Since then, there is an estimated 20,000 foreigners serving in Ukraine's foreign legion - however the exact number is unclear. Nearly two years after war began, Ukraine is desperate for more troops to join its ranks in order to sustain it's resistance against Russia

Since then, there is an estimated 20,000 foreigners serving in Ukraine’s foreign legion – however the exact number is unclear. Nearly two years after war began, Ukraine is desperate for more troops to join its ranks in order to sustain it’s resistance against Russia

Multiple foreign fighters have been killed since the start of the war. 

A former U.S. Marine was killed while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces after the private security firm he worked for sent him to war in April 2022. 

The family of Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, of Orange County New York, confirmed that the husband and father of a seven-month-old son had died in the Ukraine fighting Russian forces. 

In August 2023, a British volunteer was killed in action while fighting in Ukraine, his brother has announced. 

A U.S. Army veteran was struck and killed by a mortar shell explosion while fighting Russian forces in Ukraine.

Jeffrey Judd Jones, 48, died on July 31 in Bakhmut, an eastern part of Ukraine, mostly occupied by Russians last week, his father Howard Jones announced in August 2023. 

This comes as the Senate passed a massive foreign aid bill to Ukraine earlier this month.

Pictured, volunteers from Portugal and Brazil in Ukraine army fatigues in the days following Putin's invasion

Pictured, volunteers from Portugal and Brazil in Ukraine army fatigues in the days following Putin’s invasion

Ian Cunningham, 74, (pictured left) with a former Polish paratrooper. Mr Cunningham has travelled to Kyiv to support the Ukrainian military

Ian Cunningham, 74, (pictured left) with a former Polish paratrooper. Mr Cunningham has travelled to Kyiv to support the Ukrainian military

The sprawling $95 billion bill captured the necessary 60 senators needed to send the legislation to the House Tuesday morning after a rare all-night session ending in a 70-29 vote, but it faces an uncertain fate.

In total, the package includes $61 billion for Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel in its war against Hamas and $4.83 billion to support partners in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan, to deter aggression by China.

Since the start of this fiscal year, October 2023, the Army has spent over $430 million on Ukraine-related operations, including training Ukrainian troops, transporting weapons and deploying U.S. troops to Europe.

The Army’s Europe and Africa Command has about $3 billion left to cover its operating costs that are expected to amount to $5 billion in 2024, one senior Army official told CNN – and could run out of money by May.

US Army soldiers in Poland on feb 21, deployed as part of a rotation of forces to Poland to support multinational training and operations and deter adversaries in the European theater

US Army soldiers in Poland on feb 21, deployed as part of a rotation of forces to Poland to support multinational training and operations and deter adversaries in the European theater

A Ukrainian soldier of the 'Tsunami' regiment fires artillery in the direction of Bakhmut, as the Russia-Ukraine war continues in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on February 19

A Ukrainian soldier of the ‘Tsunami’ regiment fires artillery in the direction of Bakhmut, as the Russia-Ukraine war continues in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on February 19

‘If we don’t get a base budget, if we don’t get Ukraine supplemental [funding package], if the government shuts down, if we get nothing else and nothing changes from today…we will run out of [operations and maintenance] funding in May,’ the official told the publication.

For months lawmakers have looked for a way to pass a supplemental funding package to get money to Ukraine, but appetite for funding its war against Russia has waned on Capitol Hill.

Soon the Army will have to arbitrage funding, with Army Secretary Christine Wormuth telling CNN she expects they will have to ‘rob Peter to pay Paul.’

‘Every incremental dollar I have, it’s very important where I put that dollar. And I’m constantly choosing between, do we put it on barracks? Do I put it on enlistment incentives? Do I put it on exercises? Do I put it on modernization? I don’t have spare cash to be just sort of donating some of that,’ Wormuth, the service’s civilian leader tasked with budgeting, told CNN.

A Ukrainian soldier takes his position on the frontline near Klishchiivka the Donetsk region, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 19

A Ukrainian soldier takes his position on the frontline near Klishchiivka the Donetsk region, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 19

‘This was money that we anticipated to be replenished, obviously, by the supplemental,’ she added, reiterating the need for congressional action.

‘We would cease to exist,’ if funds are not allocated from elsewhere within the Army’s budget, one official said.

While US funding for Ukraine has run dry, training for Ukrainian troops has continued because it’s been deemed mission critical by the president. The U.S. is currently training about 1,500 Ukrainian troops in Germany and is training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 fighter aircraft at Morris Air National Guard Base in Arizona.

Last week the Senate passed a $95 billion foreign aid package that includes $61 billion for Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel, and $4.83 for partners in the Indo-Pacific.

It also would provide $9.15 billion in humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza and the West Bank, Ukraine and other conflict zones around the globe.





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