The Ukrainian Ground Forces said that the first foreign fighters who signed up to volunteer for the International Legion and are in action outside Kyiv hail from the United States, Mexico, United Kingdom, India, Sweden, and Lithuania.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on local TV Sunday night that more than 20,000 people from 52 countries have volunteered to fight against the Russian invasion, though he did not say how many were on the ground yet.
The Ukrainian government set up a website for foreign fighters to volunteer, stressing that “this is not just an invasion of Ukraine by Russia, but a start of a war against the entire Europe.”
The site states that it welcomes foreign citizens who want to “actively participate in fighting for European freedom and democracy” and either have combat experience “or want to gain it standing with brave Ukrainian defenders.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky temporarily lifted visa requirements to ease travel into the country. The State Department issued a Level 4 “do not travel” advisory on Feb. 28 stating that “U.S. citizens in Ukraine should depart immediately if it is safe to do so using any commercial or other privately available ground transportation options.”
The International Legion of Defense of Ukraine website walks volunteers through the steps they need to take if they want to fight alongside Ukraine’s military, beginning with applying at the Ukraine Embassy in their home country. Those who have experience are asked to bring documents confirming their military or law enforcement careers, including any combat experience. The Embassy will then conduct an interview with the volunteer, who will submit an application to enlist for voluntary contract-based military service in the armed forces of Ukraine with assistance from the defense attache.
Volunteers will then get instructions for guided travel to Ukraine along with the necessary documents; they are advised to bring clothing and equipment such as a helmet and body armor. After arriving in Ukraine, foreign fighters will be asked to sign a contract to join the legion “and engage the Russian occupiers together with fighters from all over the world and Ukrainian soldiers.”