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April 13, 2023
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, some American citizens, many of them US military veterans, joined the war in an attempt to help Ukraine fend off Russian advances.
A recent New York Times report has alleged that some of those who joined the war started conflicts with each other, which hindered the Ukrainian soldiers fighting next to them. Others bought cheap and inferior military equipment, which is not fit for purpose and some others used the conflict as a means to make money.
The Times interviewed over 30 volunteers, fighters, and both Ukrainian and US officials about these situations.
In one instance, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel could have exported military technology illegally, while in another case, an ex-Army soldier joined the war to fight for Ukraine, but later switched allegiances and joined Russia.
A Connecticut man who went to fight for Ukraine posted his location while at war and also confessed to the Times that he falsified his military documents. The man claimed to be a former marine.
The Pentagon confirmed that the man in question, James Vasquez, who was a home improvement contractor, never served in Kuwait or Iraq as he alleged.
Vasquez was able to gain access to a plethora of weapons during his service, however he was unsure where they came from.
“I’m not exactly sure,” he told The Times in a text exchange. “We have plenty.”
Following Russia’s invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy initially encouraged allies to join the war effort. Some citizens stuck to fundraising while others joined in active military duty.
As time went on cracks started to appear in some of the volunteers.
Volunteer organization The International Legion found itself overwhelmed with requests to volunteer, which led to them accepting people following a 10-minute interview.
This led to several missteps in recruitment. One of these was a Polish fugitive who had been imprisoned in Ukraine over weapons violations being put in a role where he was in charge of soldiers.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: LUKE MOCHERMAN
PHOTO CREDIT: THE JAPAN TIMES