US veterans heading to Ukraine to join the country's fight against Russia
Shafaq News/ A growing number of American veterans are preparing to join Ukrainians in their battle against Russian military forces, The New York Times reported.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has in recent days called for an "international legion" of volunteers, and many civilians from other countries, such as the United Kingdom, have heeded his call.
Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian minister of foreign affairs, last week echoed the sentiment, encouraging volunteers to come to the country to battle Russia, while also highlighting the German occupation during World War II.
"Foreigners willing to defend Ukraine and world order as part of the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine, I invite you to contact foreign diplomatic missions of Ukraine in your respective countries. Together we defeated Hitler, and we will defeat Putin, too," he said.
Across the United States, countless veterans have witnessed Ukrainians fight back against Russian President Vladimir Putin's incursion into their country, and many have been overwhelmed by their sense of duty to push back against the unfolding threat against democracy.
Hector, a former Marine from Tampa Bay, Fla. who served in Iraq, told The Times said that Ukrainian citizens were suffering and he believed that he could provide immediate relief.
"Sanctions can help, but sanctions can't help right now, and people need help right now," said Hector, who asked the paper to only use his first name. "I can help right now."
He left the US on Friday to volunteer in Ukraine, bringing along rifle scopes and body armor that were given to him by fellow US veterans, he told The Times.
"A lot of veterans, we have a calling to serve, and we trained our whole career for this kind of war," he told The Times. "Sitting by and doing nothing? I had to do that when Afghanistan fell apart, and it weighted heavily on me. I had to act."
US President Joe Biden last week issued two rounds of sanctions against Russia, with the US, Canada, and its European allies also agreeing to block "selected" Russian banks from SWIFT. The measures, which were crafted to isolate Russia, have already had a huge impact on the country's economy, with the ruble tanking and billions in assets that have already been frozen.