Ukraine forms special forces unit for foreign fighters

The special forces unit, separate from the recently established International Defense Legion, is already operational and in combat with Russian forces, GUR claimed.

 Ukrainian servicemen lie on the ground at their positions on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine February 24, 2022. (photo credit: Maksim Levin/Reuters)
Ukrainian servicemen lie on the ground at their positions on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine February 24, 2022.
(photo credit: Maksim Levin/Reuters)

A foreign fighter special forces unit, separate from the International Defense Legion of Ukraine established on February 27, has been initiated by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry's intelligence directorate (GUR), the ministry announced on Monday. 

The special forces unit, as of yet unnamed by the ministry, is already operational and in combat with Russian forces, GUR claimed.

The ministry did not say how foreign fighters were selected from the regular foreign legion to the special forces unit, but GUR Chief Brig.-Gen. Kyrylo Budanov reportedly thanked foreign fighters in general for their efforts.

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The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Monday that 20,000 foreign fighters had already applied to enlist into the foreign legion. GUR said that the volunteers were from 52 different countries, and were "mostly experienced fighters who have participated in many peacekeeping campaigns around the world." 

A website to guide foreign fighters to enlist with the International Defense Legion of Ukraine was launched on Saturday night by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. 

 Members of the Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces hold NLAW anti tank launchers, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, at a checkpoint in Kyiv, Ukraine March 6, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO) Members of the Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces hold NLAW anti tank launchers, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, at a checkpoint in Kyiv, Ukraine March 6, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO)

The enlistment website includes a step-by-step guide on how to join the legion, including specific contact information for individual countries. Israel was one of the countries included with detailed contact information. 

Volunteers were instructed to contact the Ukrainian embassy in their country for an interview. After filling out documents, they would get instructions on how to travel to Ukraine and join operational units.

"President [Volodymyr] Zelensky has created the International Legion of Ukraine, consisting of foreign citizens wishing to join the resistance against the Russian occupants and fight for global security," said the website. "Join the Legion and help us defend Ukraine, Europe and the whole world!"

On Thursday, Russia warned foreign fighters that they would not be treated as lawful combatants, and denied status as prisoners of war and other protections afforded to them under international humanitarian law.