- Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
Russia's Special Operation in Ukraine
On February 24, 2022 Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine, aiming to liberate the Donbass region where the people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk had been living under regular attacks from Kiev's forces.

'We Had No Chance': Foreign Fighters Leaving Ukraine Recall Lack of Arms & Equipment

© AFP 2023 / WOJTEK RADWANSKIUS soldiers are seen near a military camp in Arlamow, southeastern Poland, near the border with Ukraine, on March 3, 2022
US soldiers are seen near a military camp in Arlamow, southeastern Poland, near the border with Ukraine, on March 3, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.05.2022
Shortly after the beginning of Russia's military operation in Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky announced the creation of the so-called International Legion of Territorial Defense, calling people from other countries to come to Ukraine and fight against Russian troops.
Mercenaries from the United States and other countries who have departed Ukraine recalled having to go into battle "under-equipped and outgunned", facing a shortage of equipment and fellow international fighters abandoning posts and faking injuries, The Washington Post reported.
Many foreign fighters who came to Ukraine have pointed at "glaring disparities in what they expected and what they experienced". Aside from the horrors of combat and shelling, some fighters had to deal with a lack of supplies that sometimes put their lives at risk. For instance, a US fighter named Dakota in the report revealed that the cohort of foreign fighters he was assigned to was issued Javelin missiles with no batteries, with the lack of a power source effectively making them useless.
By the end of the second night of their mission, Dakota told WaPo, eight out of 20 mercenaries had abandoned their posts, with one fighter feigning an injury and another breaking his machine gun with a rock to pass it off as battle damage.
The lack of extra batteries for radios sometimes prompted the fighters to use unsecured channels like WhatsApp for communication, a German army veteran named Pascal told the outlet.
On the day when one of the fighters, Willy Joseph Cancel, was killed, their unit took fire from what they'd thought was a Ukrainian position, and the lack of radio communication prevented them from confirming it. After two members of the team went out to investigate, they were met with apparently Ukrainian gunfire and never returned. The remaining team was also shortly killed.
“From the beginning, we had no chance,” Pascal said. “I was asking myself why I survived and the others did not.”
The Washington Post estimated that around 4,000 US citizens went to fight in Ukraine despite the Biden administration's official recommendation to refrain from doing so. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has personally encouraged foreign fighters to join the war efforts in the Eastern European country.
Earlier in April, UK Minister of State for Europe and North America James Cleverly said that "foreign volunteer fighters" fighting under the Ukrainian flag should be considered Ukrainian soldiers and treated as such. His statement came after two UK citizens fighting in Ukraine surrendered to the Russian forces and then turned to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson with a request to facilitate their exchange for detained Ukrainian opposition politician Viktor Medvedchuk.
Moscow has estimated that about 7,000 foreign mercenaries from 63 countries came to Ukraine, particularly from Poland, the United States, Canada, Romania and Georgia.
"The collective West supports Ukrainian nationalists, supports them not only with weapons, but also with personnel, supplying mercenaries there, their own extremists nurtured in various parts of the world," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in late April.
The Russian Defence Ministry underlined that Moscow does not consider foreign mercenaries fighting in Ukraine as combatants, with them not being eligible for the status of prisoner of war under international humanitarian law. At best, foreign mercenaries will face long prison sentences, the ministry said.
Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine on 24 February with a goal to "demilitarise and de-Nazify" the neighbouring country, while also protecting the people of Donbass from Ukrainian troops.
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