Ukraine: Canadians are one of the largest groups in the foreign legion
Canadians are currently “one of the most numerous nationalities” represented among Ukrainian foreign legion fighters, a spokesperson told CTV National News.
CTV National News London bureau correspondent Daniele Hamamdjian spoke with Damien Magrou, spokesperson for the International Territorial Defense Legion of Ukraine, about the unit’s goals and what it expects from his recruits.
Although Magrou says he cannot comment on the number of people who have joined the legion, he confirmed that Canadians, many of them of Ukrainian descent, constitute one of the largest groups in the unit after the States. United States and Great Britain.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the formation of an international legion in late February, days after Russia launched its invasion of the country.
Some Canadians have since chosen to travel abroad to fight alongside Ukrainian forces.
The Ukrainian government estimates that around 20,000 foreigners have joined the legion, mostly from Western countries.
“So our working processes are such that if people don’t have military experience, if they don’t know the rules of engagement, if they don’t have basic knowledge of international humanitarian law, they have no place in the legion,” Magrou said. , noting that all non-combat support roles have been filled.
“So we’ll thank you for their offer and send them home.”
Magrou says that while some, including himself, without military training, have joined the legion’s support staff, now, he says, anyone who wants to join but lacks military experience is turned away.
“We now have a full support team and no longer need people without military experience,” he said.
“What we need are experienced and seasoned fighters.”
“THIS IS NOT A HOLIDAY CAMP”
Some who joined the legion chose to leave and were fired, a choice Magrou says the legion understands.
Although the recruits sign a residence contract for the duration of martial law in Ukraine, or while the country is at war, he claims that no one has taken a passport and that those who wish to leave, for personal reasons or others, are not detained. against their will.
“Some people come to Ukraine and want to fight, which we are very grateful for, but some people seem to feel like they just arrived, we will give them a gun and send them right away. is not the way it works in an organization like a standing army that has procedures, that has systems and we have to make sure that the legion as an organization is functioning properly and is able to make a difference on the front lines,” said Magrou.
Commenting on the Russian attack on a military installation in western Ukraine that killed 35 people on Sunday, Magrou said no members of the legion were hit, but some decided to leave afterwards nonetheless.
The strike, however, injured a Canadian, according to the organization Fight For Ukraine.
“It’s a war zone, it’s not a holiday camp,” Magrou said.
“We will do everything possible to ensure the safety of our boys, which is why we created this legion, to do so within structured frameworks, but we cannot guarantee the safety of anyone. This is an area of war.”
Meanwhile, some CTV National News spoke to said they were frustrated with how slowly the Legion is moving.
Magrou acknowledged that some of these individuals have gone their own way, but stressed that the army cannot answer for the safety of foreign fighters who join the volunteer battalions.
“If people can’t have the patience to wait to be trained in proper units and platoons that have proper offices, that are properly equipped, then they could go and do what you say, but I don’t. wouldn’t advise,” he said. .
Asked about some governments, including in Canada, advising their citizens not to travel to Ukrainesaid Magrou, “people are adults, they can make their own decisions.”
“There’s a reason Zelensky asked for help. It’s because we need all the help we can get. We all see the pictures on the forehead every day and if people think they can make a difference, if they have combat experience then please join us,” he said.
“What your government advises you to do or not to do is not really for the legion to comment on. Obviously I understand that Western governments are concerned about the safety of their citizens. That would be a lot easier for them if no one was going.”
Watch the full video with CTV National News London Bureau Correspondent Daniele Hamamdjian at the top of the article.