Ukrainian Foreign Legion: Re-Afghan Scenario or a Cover for the Intervention of Western Security Companies?

Murad Jandali | 2 years ago




With the intensification of the Russian attack, and the confusion of the position of Western capitals and their reluctance to provide military support to Ukraine; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky surprised everyone by inviting foreign volunteers to join the fight in defense of his country against the Russian invasion that it is witnessing, according to what was published on the Ukrainian presidential website on March 1, 2022.

Zelensky's invitation was welcomed internationally, and did not face any Western criticism or opposition, in addition to encouraging several Western governments to take up arms in this war against Russia, at a time when Western countries were accusing anyone who goes to fight in the Middle East of terrorism and mercenaries.

Analysts suggested that this decision would facilitate the access of Western military or security companies to Ukraine, which has been receiving defense aid from its allies, including weapons and missiles, since the start of the Russian attack more than a week ago.

Others considered that the West was seeking to repeat the Afghan experience in Ukraine, as it had supported, decades ago, the arrival of fighters of various nationalities to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union, without being involved in a direct confrontation with it.


Foreign Volunteer Legion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video posted on his Telegram channel on March 3, 2022, that “about 16,000 foreigners have volunteered to fight for Ukraine against the Russian invasion,” according to the Washington Post.

With the West deafening without the calls for help that Ukraine made more than once, Zelensky had signed, on March 1, a presidential decree allowing foreign volunteers wishing to support Ukraine against the Russian attack on its territory, to enter the country without a visa for the duration of the war or until he makes a decision else.

On February 27, Zelensky appealed to all citizens of the world and friends of Ukraine to participate in the defense of Ukraine and Europe against Russian aggression, saying: “Every friend of Ukraine who wants to join the defense of the country, please come, we will give you weapons.”

“Foreigners who want to defend Ukraine within the framework of the International Legion of Territorial Defense, can review the embassies of Ukraine in their countries of residence,” Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.

Deputy Defense Minister of Ukraine, Hanna Maliar, confirmed that the Ukrainian army has already received several thousand requests from foreigners who want to join the resistance against the Russian occupiers, and protection of global security from Russian President Vladimir Putin,” according to the Ukrainian News Agency.

Ukraine's invitation for foreign volunteers who want to join its armed forces from outside the country to fight the Russians has sparked global controversy and wide division, as well as mobilizing far-right groups to collect funds and recruit fighters.

Western countries did not oppose the Ukrainian decision, with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss saying she supports the participation of British citizens in the fight for democracy in Ukraine, the BBC reported.

In turn, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen confirmed that her country will allow volunteers to join the Ukrainian Foreign Volunteer Legion, denying any legal obstacle.

Latvia also allowed its citizens to volunteer to support the Ukrainian forces, after Parliament unanimously passed the necessary legal conditions for this without fear of possible prosecution upon their return to their homeland, a member of the European Union and NATO.

Responding to Kyiv's calls, ten former soldiers of the NATO Special Forces (six Americans, three Britons and one German) confirmed their intention to join the battle fronts on the side of the Ukrainian army.

According to a report published by the US BuzzFeed website on February 27, these soldiers are highly trained to carry out special operations to neutralize terrorist risks and engage behind enemy lines.

The website added that two former officers in the US Army's infantry forces also announced their joining the war in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the French newspaper Le Figaro revealed in a report on March 1 that about 3,000 people had expressed their willingness to join the fighters in Ukraine.

The British newspaper Daily Mail also reported that “60 British volunteers from the former special forces soldiers will travel to Ukraine to fight against the Russian army under the banner of the Georgian National League unit.”

The volunteer lists included fighters from Canada, Hungary, Iran, and Japan, amid media reports indicating that Western private security companies will also be active in providing logistical support to the Ukrainians.

In a report on March 01, the Danish newspaper Politiken revealed that “there are European efforts, including Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Finnish, to form battalions of veterans and join the ranks of the Ukrainian resistance, in the context of the spread of the concept that Ukraine's fight against the Russian invasion is a defense of Europe.”

It is noteworthy that thousands of foreign fighters have flocked to Ukraine since the start of the Russian war against the country in 2014, most of them were Russians and citizens of other former Soviet republics, hundreds from the European Union, about 40 from the United States, and at least 12 a person from the United Kingdom, according to independent reports and research conducted by experts who track these fighters.


Legal Cover or Guerrilla Quagmire?

The formation of the new International Corps comes in response to Russia's involvement in the Ukraine war of thousands of members of the pro-Kremlin private security group Wagner, especially in the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, according to what The Times newspaper revealed in a report on February 28.

In turn, researcher at the Al-Sharq Center for Studies, Mr. Saad al-Sharae, confirmed in a statement to Al-Estiklal that “the United States and Europe want to form a Western pressure front against the eastern camp, which is currently represented by Russia; this is similar to what happened during the intensification of differences during the Cold War.”

“A section of the foreign volunteers will join the International Legion in order to cover up the fact that Western security companies will work on the ground, this is another plan for the indirect intervention of the West in the war in Ukraine, and to wage a proxy war against Russia,” he revealed.

“Those Western private security companies will operate advanced missiles and weapons that have started arriving in Ukraine from European countries, which the Ukrainian army does not have personnel with the expertise to operate,” according to the researcher.

“There are also several reasons that helped in the process of forming the Foreign Volunteer Legion, given that the combat doctrine of the European Union countries is completely similar, therefore, the possibility of mobilizing these elements against Russia is already present, given that the hostility of the Russians has great historical roots between the two camps,” Mr. al-Sharae added.

The conditions in the Ukrainian crisis today seem somewhat similar to what it was in Afghanistan decades ago, the United States and European countries have united, as international lawyer Mr. Bassam Tablieh believes, on the scheme to defeat the Russians and put an end to their ambitions without being involved in a direct war with them.

Mr. Tablieh added, in a statement to Al-Estiklal, that “the Western countries have made it clear unequivocally that they will impose economic sanctions on Russia, without any statement about the military supply to Ukraine at the beginning of the war, in order to implicate the Russians in the Ukrainian quagmire.”

“Therefore, it seems that the Foreign Volunteer Legion was recently formed to fight and drain the Russians on Ukrainian soil and turn it into a quagmire for a protracted guerrilla war,” he also says.

Mr. Tabliah explains why the West followed the scheme to involve mercenaries in the Ukrainian war, as a result of the inability of the West and NATO to put its military forces on the ground, so that it is not a pretext for the barbaric Russian escalation and an entry point for an open war.

In turn, the American politician and diplomat Hillary Clinton called during a talk show on the news channel MSNBC on March 1, the Western countries to use the same method they used to plunge Russia into the quagmire of Afghanistan in the eighties.

“Russia invaded Afghanistan in 1980, and although no country entered. However, many countries provided weapons, advice, and even some advisors to those who were recruited to fight Russia. This prompted the Russians to leave Afghanistan defeated,” Clinton said.

“The United States should continue to provide Ukraine with weapons and volunteers to continue fighting Russia,” she also added.

While many social media users reminded Clinton that arming the rebels with modern weapons and giving them millions of dollars did not work out well for the West, especially the United States, what has created a fertile environment for terrorist organizations, such as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS, and for the Western extreme right and neo-Nazis.

Canadian activist Jay Watts posted a tweet on his Twitter account, saying: “If you wanted to identify the most atrocious that would result from this war, this would be one of them: Putting mercenaries on the loose to realize their violent and perverted fantasies inside Ukraine.”

On her part, Yemeni activist Dr. Wesam Abubakar Basendwah, that “arming volunteers and sending them to fight in Ukraine under the slogan of democratic jihad will make the West suffer in the future from the scourge of fighters returning from Ukraine, just like those returning from Afghanistan.”

Basendwah said in a tweet on her Twitter: “According to Marx, history repeats itself twice, once as a tragedy, and once as a farce, and what we see now is a farce.”

According to a report published on March 2 by the US Lawfare blog, devoted to national security issues, “a Journal of Peace Research study found that when foreign fighters are deployed, violence against civilians rises, because they are more zealous and can commit atrocities without fears of revenge.”

“The presence of far-right extremists among those who go to fight in Ukraine should make governments stop encouraging their nationals to travel to Ukraine,” the report added.

“Such extremists already pose a serious threat, become more lethal and interconnected, and may pass on their beliefs to others. Upon their return home, because of their combat experience, they might gain special admiration within their communities and might even revive sacred killings,” it emphasized.

It is worth noting that the Australian far-right Brenton Tarrant, who killed 51 Muslim worshipers in two mosques in New Zealand in March 2019, had fought as a volunteer against Muslims in the Bosnia and Herzegovina war within the extreme right Azov Battalion, and gained combat experience and extremist ideology at that time.