As fighting rages in many major Ukrainian cities and towns, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the formation of the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine. Foreigners will be allowed to enter the country, join territorial defense units and fight alongside Ukrainians against Russian forces. The president called on all “friends of Ukraine” to join the fight, promising they would be equipped with adequate weapons.
In the past month or two, there has been increased interest in Ukraine both on social media and in international reporting. When Putin openly declared war on Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Ukrainians rose en masse to defend their country. The world watched in wonder as Ukrainian soldiers fought courageously against the northern horde, as Ukrainians gathered together to make Molotov cocktails, weave camouflage nets, donate their pensions, etc. It is no wonder that many foreign volunteers – experienced or novice fighters – voiced their desire to fight alongside the Ukrainian forces.
Following the president’s announcement, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba tweeted:
“Foreigners willing to defend Ukraine and the 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!”
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.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) February 27, 2022
In his morning address, President Zelenskyy also stated that he was open to peace talks with Russia, but not in Belarus as suggested by Moscow.
“We want peace, we want to meet, we want the end the war!”
However, he rejected Minsk in Belarus, saying the city was “a playground we didn’t choose… it was chosen by the government of Russia….Any other city works for us. In a country where missiles aren’t flying at us from its territory. Only that way can talks be fair.”
On February 26, Ukraine’s Health Minister Viktor Liashko stated that Russian forces had killed 198 Ukrainians, including 3 children; 1,115 wounded, including 33 children. Some 150,000 Ukrainian refugees have crossed into neighbouring countries, half of them to Poland, and many to Hungary, Moldova and Romania, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said.