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The war in Ukraine: the legionnaires of the front!

2023-10-23 14:40:52, Blog CNA

The war in Ukraine: the legionnaires of the front!

They train militarily to be fit even when they are not on the war front. Then come hours of calm and talks away from the front. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, an international legion has been fighting alongside the Ukrainian army. Fighters from many countries of the world are lined up in the unit of foreign legionnaires. Their motives are different. Even their relationship with being in the army is different from that of Ukrainian fighters. German Max Eberhardt, who served two years in the German Bundeswehr says, "We are a normal military unit, but made up of foreigners. And we fight together with Ukrainians."

No one thought of war

He came to Ukraine a few weeks after the start of the war and remembers that he never thought that there would be another war in Europe. After the call of the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, he made the decision. "I didn't have any work to do, a boring job. I wanted to help people and after Zelensky's call I came here."

Three days after the start of the war, the Ukrainian president called on "friends of peace and democracy" to help defend his country. This message also touched the Finnish volunteer, nicknamed Hobit. Something remained in my mind, that Europe has not done enough. But I remembered that we in Finland also had volunteers in the war and I thought; damn it, at least I can do that much." Hobit is referring to the Finnish-Soviet war in the 1930s and 1940s.

The war in Ukraine: the legionnaires of the front!

Many of the foreign legion volunteers in Ukraine bring with them the stories of the countries they come from. They come from 60 countries of the world and have come to help Ukraine. Some stay for weeks, others for months, and fight side by side with Ukrainians, but foreign fighters can return home whenever they want. That makes the difference, says Australian Caleb List. "When you go to a Ukrainian unit, you notice that everything is clean there. They have people who cook and clean. After returning from a combat mission, everything is clean, but at the foreign legion, they always come to young people. People there come and go. They make the same mistakes, and often places have cleanliness problems and are not well organized. They just leave things on the ground."

The war in Ukraine: the legionnaires of the front!

Contribution to the continuation of Western support for Ukraine

Caleb List arrived a year ago from Australia with no military experience. Now he is the leader of the troupe. He wanted to join the French Foreign Legion when Russia started the war in Ukraine, but plans changed. For Caleb, adventure has been his motivation. I wanted to test myself by participating in the foreign legion, to understand where my limits are. With the same motivation I came here and that's how the story began. And now I'm staying because it's the only thing I know how to do well."

The legion of foreign fighters fought under Ukrainian commandos in the Kharkiv and Bahmut offensives. Foreign fighters want the West's support for Ukraine to continue and see participation in the front as a contribution to this. Hobit half-jokingly says, that it is not our intention to be wounded several times or killed in order for Ukraine to remain in the media's focus. "But I think, in the end, this is the biggest effect we can achieve." Each of the foreign legionnaires contributes what they can, but at the moment no one imagines a quick return to civilian life./ DW

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