The stage has arguably been set for Russia’s war of aggression against its neighbor Ukraine since 2014, when pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine declared autonomy from Kiev and the Crimea region voted in a referendum to join the Russian Federation.
As talks mounted for Ukraine’s inclusion into the NATO military alliance, diplomatic efforts failed to curtail Russia’s aggressive stance toward the country it began to increasingly view as a threat. Now the world watches outraged as cities are flattened by Russian troops and armor.
Sanctions against Vladmir Putin, his inner circle, and the Russian economy began in earnest. Oligarch assets were abroad, multinational corporations from countless sectors pulled out of Russia, and its banking system was largely isolated from the international markets. Lethal weapons systems have been poured into Ukraine from foreign countries aligned with NATO to bolster the Ukrainian defense, and billions in emergency funds have been approved in aid for the country.
Despite all the efforts to thwart Russia’s advance, however, the Western bloc led by the United States has danced around direct military involvement as the prospect of World War 3 looms large over the conflict.
But where the official position of the United States prevents direct military involvement, foreign volunteers from across the world, including United States military veterans, are trying to fill the gaps.
Aid from American Military Veterans
In the first week of March, Spanish newspaper, Diario AS, reported that there were already hundreds of North American volunteers on the ground, including an unnamed former Army Linguist and another unnamed US veteran linking volunteers to elements on the ground:
“They are among organizers from three US online networks Reuters spoke to this week that are creating underground pipelines of military, medical and other volunteers for Ukraine.”
The linguist, identifying himself under the pseudonym, Tex, told reporters that in addition to marksmanship and first aid, he was training volunteers in basic Russian phrases, like “put your weapons down.”
“You can learn a few words and phrases that may potentially save your life,” he said.
Another US Army veteran, Matthew Parker, told YAHOO News that images of Russian war crimes inspired him to make the journey to Ukraine to aid in the country’s defense:
It’s not easy on any human being to watch suffering. It’s really not easy for a soldier who’s been in combat to see it. Because we’ve seen it up close. You know it’s avoidable. The Russians are violating the law of war by doing what they’re doing.
Every hospital that’s bombed, every baby that’s killed, every pregnant woman that’s killed, every orphan — that’s all our problem.
Parker, who retired from the military in 2011, served in combat in both Bosnia and Iraq. He has given himself a personal mission-to locate and bring to safety the family of a Ukrainian soldier who served alongside him in Iraq.
I’m gonna go find them. I will find his mother, I’ll find his sister and daughter. If they’re still somewhere near Odesa, I will go find them. And if I can get them to safety, I will.
According to Diario AS, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took to social media platform, Telegram, claiming that over 16,000 foreign volunteers had streamed into the country to fight against Russia. While it is unclear how accurate this number is, or how many American veterans are among them, the ones there, like “Tex” and Matthew Parker, have brought with them the selfless bravery used to defend our freedoms to now defend the dignity and rights of the Ukrainians trapped by Putin’s war.