The Ukrainian embassy in the United States has become a recruitment center for Americans who want to join the war against Russia.
Thousands of offers have poured into the small embassy from volunteers seeking to fight for Ukraine. And Ukraine is sifting through the pile to see if anyone makes the cut.
The U.S. government discourages Americans from going to Ukraine to join the fight against Russia. Foreign fighters raise legal issues as well as national security issues, the government has said.
But that has not stopped 6,000 people from inquiring about “volunteering” for service since Russia first invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Ukrainian military attache Maj. Ge. Borys Kremenetskyi oversees the screening of potential American recruits. Of the growing list of inquirers, Kremenetskyi said that the vast majority of those looking to volunteer are American citizens.
So far, half of the potential volunteers were rejected quickly. The quick rejections don’t make it to the next stage, which is a Zoom interview. Those getting tossed out of the recruits on the first stage either do not have required military experience, have a criminal background or were not deemed suitable for other reasons, including age. Some have been rejected because the embassy said it could not do the adequate vetting.
About 100 American citizens have made the cut so far. They include military veterans from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, coming with combat experience, and some have special skill sets, such as helicopter pilots.
The approved recruits have to make their own way to Poland, where they are then told to cross at a specific point. They need to travel with their own protective gear, but not with a weapon, which is provided upon arrival. They would then sign a contract to serve without pay to the International Legion for the Territorial Defense of Ukraine.
An estimated 20,000 foreigners from different countries have already joined the war.
The U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the government has been very clear for some time in calling on Americans to leave Ukraine and to not travel there.