A Texas software developer and a cook in British Columbia are among dozens of Americans and Canadians answering Ukraine’s call for foreign volunteers to fight Russia’s invasion.
With their governments refusing to send troops to Ukraine out of fear of sparking world war, Americans and Canadians told Reuters they were inspired by Ukrainians’ fierce resistance. Many believe their democratic rights at home may ultimately be jeopardized if they do nothing to defend Europe.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on Sunday for the formation of an “international legion.” Some young volunteers traveled straight to Ukraine to enlist.
Others were applying at Ukrainian embassies and consulates before quitting jobs or dropping out of university.
The mobilization was taking place as Russian artillery bombarded Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, on Monday, the fifth day of conflict.
“I feel guilty to not go,” said Dax, 26, a veteran of the elite U.S. Army 82nd Airborne infantry division, who planned to deploy with other former U.S. military personnel. Like many volunteers, the Alabama native declined to give his full name amid discussion on social media of the need to keep their identities and movements secret for security reasons.
Canadian Bryson Woolsey quit his job as a cook on Sunday after seeing Zelensky’s appeal. He has no military training and plans to buy a plane ticket to Poland, cross into Ukraine and volunteer for combat.
“I felt like I had to do something,” said Woolsey, 33, of Powell River, British Columbia, who became restless as he watched images of wounded women and children in Ukraine.
Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Joly on Sunday told reporters it was up to individual Canadians to decide whether they wanted to join Ukraine’s international brigade. A U.S. State Department spokesperson, in an email to Reuters, said U.S. citizens are urged not to travel to Ukraine.