Days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the creation of the International Legion of Territorial Defense, nearly 20,000 foreign nationals are said to have signed up to fight alongside Ukrainians in their armed struggle with the Russian Federation.
Established a week ago, President Zelensky’s foreign legion, which has been hailed by the international liberal press as having “united the world,” is said to have enlisted close to 20,000 experienced veterans and volunteers from as many as 52 countries, Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said over the weekend, the Ukrainian news outlet European Pravda reports.
“The number is around 20,000 now,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told U.S. media. “They come from many European countries mostly. 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. So when people saw that Ukrainians are fighting, that Ukrainians are not giving up, many felt motivated to join the fight.”
The foreign minister’s announcement, which may come as a shock to many, comes roughly a week after President Zelensky introduced a visa-free regime, for entry into Ukraine, for foreign citizens who are willing to join the foreign volunteer corps, except citizens of the Russian Federation.
While countries like the U.S., UK, Denmark, Latvia, Norway, and Canada are allowing—and have even encouraged—their nationals to take up arms in Ukraine, others like Belgium have discouraged veterans from joining the armed struggle.
Days ago, the U.S. news publication Foreign Policy claims to have met a dozen of the newest members of Ukraine’s foreign legion, many of whom were Ukrainian men returning from abroad. Others, however, had arrived from Britain, Belarus, Israeli, and Poland, among other countries.
While the Ukrainian embassy in Oslo, Norway has estimated that around 300 Norwegians have already volunteered to join the conflict, a U.S. official working at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington said that some 3,000 Americans have already responded to Zelensky’s call, according to a report for the state-run media outlet Voice of America.
The “volunteers have responded to Ukraine’s appeal for people to serve in an international battalion that will help resist Russia’s invading forces,” the official said.
“Many more have stepped forward from other countries, most from other post-Soviet states, such as Georgia and Belarus,” the embassy representative added.