The war in Ukraine is almost a month old now. On February 24, Russia’s Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine in a bloody conflict.
There are now over 3.5 million Ukrainian refugees and thousands dead on each side, including 750 reported civilian casualties among Ukrainians, many of them children.
Answering Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s appeal for foreign help, many Americans have gone over to Ukraine to join its International Legion.
However, some of them say that what they’re finding has made them think twice.
One of those who went over to Ukraine to help out is a young man called Adam from LA. At only 24, Adam had been working a minimum wage job as a security guard and a teller at a shop.
He isn’t a veteran, but knows his way around guns from going to the range. He says going to Ukraine for him was all about “freedom” and protecting Ukraine from anti-democratic aggression.
In particular, Adam says he’s come to Ukraine to help the “underdog” Ukrainians fight back against the awful actions of Putin and his regime.
The war has many frontlines where volunteers are joining units after quick training phases of learning basic warfare and cover tactics.
Adam and many of his fellow Americans, Europeans, and Canadian volunteers, however, say what they’ve experienced so far in Ukraine is not how they thought things would be.
Helmet cam footage from an American volunteer fighting for Ukraine’s Foreign Legion shows him and his team taking shelter during a Russian artillery strike.
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) March 18, 2022
A Surprising Experience
Many volunteers like Adam just want to help and are bravely offering to do so. Others who are veterans have more experience with taking orders and executing maneuvers.
The problem is that even for veterans, Ukraine is unlike anything they experienced in Afghanistan or Iraq. This isn’t patrolling with sudden intense firefights or explosions and then calm.
This is being under attack from a modern army stocked with extremely deadly weapons and the intent to use them.
Grad rockets flying overhead, intense airstrikes obliterating entire units, and artillery strikes blasting buildings are not something that even many vets were fully prepared for in Ukraine.
People like Adam want to fight and are sure they are fighting for what’s right. However, fellow volunteers like Canadian Brian don’t have combat experience. Speaking to journalists, Brian said he has a lot of experience hunting, but no military experience.
Still, he’s been put on a sniper squad and looks forward to killing Russians, even though he admits he’s never shot someone before.
However, many volunteers have also described waiting around in the capital of Kiev and not being given enough weapons or instructions about what to do.
They say the system is disorganized and, in some cases, their passports are taken away and they’re threatened if they criticize the way things are being run.
Apparent American fighting for Ukraine claims foreign soldiers are not getting weapons, ammo or kit before being sent to the front and their passports are getting stolen
“People need to stop coming here” pic.twitter.com/47hztxBIdu
— Kyle Hooten (@KyleHooten2) March 18, 2022
What if Americans Get Killed?
The question on everybody’s mind is also this: what if American fighters get killed?
So far, journalist Brent Renaud and civilian teacher Jimmy Hill have been killed, but they weren’t there for the war effort.
If an American gets killed, it will put more pressure on the US to directly intervene. It could be a big propaganda victory for Putin to say he’s hitting foreigners and they are lying about not intervening.
So far, there are 4,000 Americans who have joined Ukraine’s international legion out of 20,000 total foreigners.
In addition to the previous issues discussed, some said they were told they might have to stay two years and would get paid $3,000 a month, but the paperwork is long and some describe the organization as “amateur.”
One thing that’s for sure is to not join this war unless you’re absolutely committed because getting in uniform to fight is not simple and getting out is not easy.