Editor’s note: In a follow-up story, Ukraine officials have again stressed that they are only seeking those with military training to take part in combat. People without military training or combat experience should not travel to Ukraine intending to fight, officials added. The U.S. State Department also recommends citizens not travel to Ukraine.
Under siege by its much larger and more powerful neighbor, Ukraine has been so far able to slow down Russia’s attack, a senior U.S. defense official said Sunday morning.
But there is a long fight ahead.
“The Russians have been frustrated. They have been slowed. They have been stymied, and they have been resisted by Ukrainians, and to some degree, they’ve done it to themselves in terms of their fuel and logistics and sustainment problems,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to brief reporters. “But as I said earlier, we would expect them to learn from these issues and adapt to them and try to overcome them. So I think we all need to be very sober here. in recognizing that this is combat, and combat is ugly, it’s messy, it’s bloody, and it’s not wholly predictable.
And to that end, Ukraine is calling on foreigners who want to help.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has created “The International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine.”
It is a new effort, a Ukrainian official tells Military Times, to help bolster the fight.
Several veterans have reached out to Military Times interested in helping Ukraine.
Before you go, this is what you need to know, according to the official, who spoke to Military Times Sunday on condition of anonymity in an interview repeatedly interrupted by ongoing airstrikes.
Here’s what veterans, other U.S. citizens or anyone else interested in helping out, need to know.
- Apply to the Embassy of Ukraine in your country with the intention of joining the Foreign Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine (ask a military diplomat or consul for details). Applicants can visit the Embassy in person, call or send an email to start the process.
- Get your documents in order. This includes an ID, a passport to travel abroad, documents confirming military service or work with law enforcement agencies and participation in combat.
- Arrive at the embassy with documents for an interview with the defense attaché and the settlement of any visa issues with the consul.
- Write an application for enlistment in the Territorial Defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for military service under a contract on a voluntary basis. (This is in addition to Step 1.)
- Receive instructions on how to arrive in Ukraine and what to bring. Military clothing, equipment, helmet, body armor, combat gloves, tactical glasses, belts and vests are recommended. “It is not obligatory,” the official said, “but a foreign soldier in his national uniform looks good for the International Legion.”
- Go to Ukraine in an organized manner. Representatives of Ukrainian embassies, consulates (abroad) and Territorial Defense in Ukraine will provide assistance on the way. Contacts will be provided at the Embassy of Ukraine in your country.
Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics.