Foreign Fighters in the Battle for Ukraine

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Thousands of foreigners are joining the war on both sides. Some of them are getting paid whilst others come as volunteers.

  • Syria is recruiting troops from its own military to fight alongside Russian forces in Ukraine. Russia intervened in the war Syria’s dictator waged against his own people – earning much gratitude.
  • Russia is expected to fill the gaps in its own ranks with Syrian fighters – by paying them. The Russian troops had suffered from heavier losses than expected since the start of the war.
  • On the Ukrainian side thousands of foreign volunteers have joined the fight – in a so-called international brigade. Many of them come from the US or Canada which have a huge Ukrainian diaspora.
  • The “International brigade” seems to be inspired by volunteers fighting fascists in the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s. However, according to historians both cases bear little resemblance.
  • Forces from the autonomous Russian republic of Chechnya are a special case: Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov is rumoured to have brought in his fighters for special tasks on the ground.
  • However, Chechens had once fought against Russia trying to gain their own independence. Some of them have not forgotten this war and are now joining Ukraine in its fight.
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5 articles on this topic

Al Jazeera

Ukraine’s foreign legion joins the battle against Russia

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6 min read

Ukrainians fear Chechen fighters. Russian soldiers hate them

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3 min read
The Conversation

Ukraine's foreign fighters have little in common with those who signed up to fight in the Spanish Civil War

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6 min read