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Ukraine says 3,000 Americans have volunteered to fight Russian invaders

Ukrainian Army soldiers pose for a photo as they gather to celebrate a Day of Unity in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022.

Emilio Morenatti/AP

  • Ukrainian officials say 3,000 Americans have applied to join a new international legion in the fight against Russia.

  • Several hundred volunteers have already arrived in Ukraine, according to a Military Times report.

  • For Americans, it's perfectly legal to volunteer, but officials warned those without combat experience may not be wanted.

Ukraine has received more than 3,000 applications for US citizens who want to join the fight against Russia, according to defense official at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington D.C.

Several hundred volunteers have already arrived in Ukraine, the official told Military Times. He said the applicants include many veterans but could not specify how many.

On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the formation of an International Legion for foreigners who want to go and fight against Russia.

"Anyone who wants to join the defense of Ukraine, Europe and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals," the statement on the presidential website said.

The UK's foreign secretary Liz Truss said on Sunday that she supported British individuals who want to go and fight in Ukraine.

"The people of Ukraine are fighting for freedom and democracy, not just for Ukraine but for the whole of Europe," she said.

While there seems to be a high level of enthusiasm, Ukrainian officials told Military Times they're looking for volunteers with combat experience who would require little training. To join the newly formed International Legion, volunteers must have "documents confirming military service or work with law enforcement agencies and participation in combat."

"We do not want to send people who are not trained, but at the same time, people can provide medical help. Or some can analyze mass media if they do not wish to fight," the embassy official told Military Times.

Joining the International Legion is legal for Americans in most circumstances. "A person's service in the armed forces of a foreign country may not constitute a violation of U.S. law," according to US State Department webpage on foreign military service.

However, if "someone has been recruited or hired in the United States," that could be a violation of the law. Ukrainian officials say they are not hiring anyone and are only opening the door for volunteers that wish to help.

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