Meet the foreign fighters defending Ukraine from Russian aggression

Stories, Stories from the Front, War in the Donbas

Among the ranks of Ukraine’s Armed Forces are citizens of other countries, including Russia. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a law last year allowing foreign nationals to serve in the Ukrainian Military.

This is Mamuka Mamulashvili. He’s one of the foreign volunteer fighters currently serving in Ukraine’s armed forces. He lived through the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008. Mamuka and his father Zurab were even Russian Prisoners. They know first hand the harshness of Russia’s Special Forces.

“They differ because of their cruelty. They make fun of dead bodies.. Basically, their principles make them want to break a person psychologically. They want to frighten people,” says Mamulashvili.

Currently, Mamuka is defending Ukraine in the Donbas. He has fought in the fiercest battles, Ilovaisk, Pisky, and Popasna. He calls Ukraine his second home, and calls the Ukrainian people his brothers:

“Our love for Ukraine is what brought us here, not our supposed hate for Russia. In battle, we don’t have contempt for Russians or Russia. We are just fulfilling our duty, and protecting the sovereignty of Ukraine from Russian Aggression.”

Not only have Georgians joined the fight for Ukrainian sovereignty, but Russian citizens as well. Sergei came from the city of Ulianovsk, where he was followed by authorities for being against the Putin Regime. Sergei is currently going through rehabilitation after being injured in battle. He says he’s ready to go back to the front-line, but returning to Russia while Putin is in power is not an option:

“They’d arrest me right at the border and put me in prison for 7 or 8 years for sure. Maybe more. After being in Ukraine, you can feel the difference in mentality. There’s a difference in the way politics is done here too. You feel free here.”

Pavel, another Russian citizen, came from Moscow to fight for Ukraine. A couple years ago he had a successful business and a quiet life. Now, he spends his days in the combat zone:

“In a few words, its a feeling of justice. I saw what has happened in my country, and I don’t want the same thing to happen in Ukraine. That’s why I packed up and came.”

Pavel says that he has never regretted his choice for a second. Ukraine has become home to him, and has even given him the love of his life, Anna.

“It’s a big sense of pride for me. I’m proud of them. It’s very rare when a person leaves their successful life, business, work, and family and comes to fight for justice. To fight to defend Ukraine,” says Anna, Pavel’s wife.

According to statistics of The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, there are currently 100 foreign volunteers serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Their countries of origin include Belarus, Georgia, Lithuania, Moldova, and Russia.

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