'Worst Day in Afghanistan and Iraq is Great Day in Ukraine' - US Merc
15:09 GMT 02.07.2023 (Updated: 17:27 GMT 02.07.2023)
Tens of thousands of foreigners flooded into Ukraine after February 2022 and the escalation of the Donbass crisis into a full-fledged Russia-NATO proxy war. A year-and-a-half on, many have left the country disillusioned, with others captured or killed.
US mercenaries in Ukraine have acknowledged that taking on the Russian army is nothing like fighting the poorly-armed and trained rebels in America's wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The worst day in Afghanistan and Iraq is a great day in Ukraine," David Bramlette, a US Army Ranger with experience fighting in all three countries told US media.
"Even when we thought it wasn't, we were always in control of the situation" in the US wars, Bramlette said, "versus as a commander of a team in Ukraine," where communications aren't reliable, there's no air support, no artillery support, and limited intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assistance.
"I would always send a reconnaissance element out first…as soon as those guys leave my side, I’m not gonna really hear from them until they’re back within eyesight. And that may be 24 hours later, maybe 48 hours later," he said. "If two of them get injured…there’s no helicopter coming to get you…Sh*t can go south really, really frickin’ quickly. And that’s the kind of stuff that is pretty hard."
Bramlette, who apparently bought into the US government and media narrative about the causes of the Ukrainian crisis, and who spent years engaged in "partner training" in Central and Eastern Europe after 2014, characterized the conflict as a battle of "good and evil," calling Russia a "rabid dog" that needs to "get put down."
He traveled to Ukraine in the spring of 2022, meeting some foreigners with military training who saw Ukraine as an opportunity to gain combat experience. At the same time, he said he found "a lot of really dumb-ass volunteers over here who have no business being in a war," including a carpenter from Germany whose only experience was shooting a hunting rifle.
Once on the ground, he met up with two other Green Berets, and formed a 12-man squad. "And then essentially, they give us orders for Kharkov and said, ‘go kill as many Russians as you can," with the mercs doing "all our own resourcing, funding, like buying our own cars, funding our own safehouses."
Bramlette did not elaborate on where the funding came from. Residents of the Donbass and other territories where Ukrainian forces and mercenaries have operated have reported on the systematic looting
of everything from vehicles to household goods, and on troops forcing their way into local homes, often with their residents still inside.
Bramlette admitted that fighting in the fall and winter became harder, prompting his unit to evacuate the battlefield in December 2022. "You don't have leaves on the trees, the bushes are bare, the trees are bare, and it's colder…It's really bad news bears. You can't hide," he said. "I was just afraid we would go out and do what we normally do and we'd all basically die."
After getting out, the merc said he couldn’t bring himself to go back. "I kind of shut down a little bit, but it gave me the decompression space to reassess. And so I came to the conclusion that I’m not going to go back and fight." Instead, Bramlette now works at a Kiev-based organization that locates and transfers the remains of American mercs killed in Ukraine.
'Smashed' by Russian Artillery and Tanks
Troy Offenbecker, a former Marine and fellow merc, said he was sucked into the conflict after buying into the Kiev regime's tall tale about Russian troops massacring Ukrainian civilians in the Kiev suburb of Bucha
in the spring of 2022, joining the so-called International Legion and shipping out to the Donbass.
"This is my third war I've fought in, and this is by far the worst one," Offenbecker said. "You're getting f*cking smashed with artillery, tanks. Last week I had a plane drop a bomb next to us, like 300 meters away. It's horrifying sh*t," he said.
The merc said his experiences were so bad that he ignored messages from military buddies asking for info on how to join, saying he “didn’t want to bring anyone else into it.”
Thousands of foreign mercenaries have been sucked into the Ukrainian crisis over the past year, some traveling to the country on the misplaced belief that Ukraine was fighting a Hollywood movie-style battle against evil, and others motivated by money, ultra-right views, or simply a desire to "kill Russians," as Bramlette put it.
Russian forces have captured
thousands of foreign fighters. In other cases, foreigners chose to get out of Ukraine and go home themselves, becoming disillusioned after witnessing war crimes
by their comrades, getting used as meat sacks
to attack entrenched Russian positions, and realizing that fighting Russian forces backed by artillery and air support was nothing like the wars Westerners have become used to over the past quarter century in the Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan.