Since the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, thousands of foreign volunteers are said to have joined the Ukrainian army. A Ukrainian officer told RT that he was surprised at the reason given by some British fighters.
Foreign fighters would join the Ukrainian military in search of “adventure”, the commander of the 36th brigade of the Ukrainian naval infantry in Kyiv told RT. He was captured by Russian forces during fighting in the port city of Mariupol.
Colonel Vladimir Baranyuk stated that there were foreigners in the ranks of his unit and that Ukrainian legislation allows citizens from other countries to join the armed forces. “They sign official contracts and serve,” he said.
Baranyuk reported, among other things, that at least two foreign fighters – “both from Great Britain” – were under his command. He said, “One was called Aiden…I don’t remember the other’s name…a very short surname.” Baranyuk may have been referring to British citizens Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, who were captured in the city of Mariupol in April. Aslin and Pinner, believed to be mercenaries, have been accused by the Donetsk People’s Republic of committing crimes against the civilian population.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had at the end of April promisedto “do everything in our power” to free the duo through a prisoner swap. However, Johnson pointed out that the final decision on the matter rests with Ukraine. Aslin and Pinner “were not hostages and they are not to be exchanged as if they were terrorists – they are prisoners of war,” he added.
According to Baranyuk, foreigners came to Ukraine to enlist in the Ukrainian military even before 2018. This is how he related:
“When I took command of the brigade, I tried to ask them [warum]. They said they wanted to, well, serve, so to speak. To be honest, I was surprised by her reasoning.”
He further stated:
“I asked them, ‘Why? What’s the point? Can’t you guys make money elsewhere?’ They said, ‘No, it’s not like that. We’re looking for adventure.’
Baranyuk stressed that there was nothing special about the foreign soldiers, who all held “normal positions” in the unit. “I can’t say they did anything extraordinary, that they differed from our marines.”
In the interview, Baranjuk also criticized certain weapon systems that were made available by the USA and its ally Kyiv. He described the US Javelin anti-tank systems as “unusable, especially in urban warfare” and explained that the battery of the British counterpart NLAW drained too quickly in cold weather, so that the weapon could not be used.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced last month that an estimated 6,800 foreign mercenaries from 63 countries had come to Ukraine, responding to a call from President Vladimir Zelensky. Of those, 1,035 were “eliminated” while more than 900 fled the country, Moscow said.
A few days ago, a Canadian mercenary named “Wali”, who had been hailed by Western media as “the best sniper in the world”, gave an interview in which he described his experience in Ukraine as “a terrible disappointment”. For example, he said he decided to return to Quebec because the Kiev troops were underarmed and poorly trained and had suffered heavy casualties. In addition, there would be looting and desertion in their ranks.
Baranyuk and his soldiers were tasked with securing the northern outskirts of Mariupol, the strategically important port city in south-eastern Ukraine, from advancing Russian forces, but were unable to complete it. The commander was captured in a failed attempt to escape from the city. According to his own statements, he did this together with several loyal men after realizing that Kiev’s promises to send help to its surrounded units were false.
Mariupol is the scene of the fiercest fighting in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine and has suffered immense destruction. The city is now almost completely controlled by Russian forces, with the Azovstal Steel Plant, where Ukrainian soldiers and ultra-nationalist fighters from the notorious Azov Battalion are holed up, being the last bastion of resistance.
More on the subject – Mariupol: Fake and real mercy