US militants say they feel compelled to join Ukraine’s cause

US fighters feel called to join the fight in Ukraine
Red Taylor, Alexis Antilla and Rob, members of a group of volunteer US militants who have taken up arms alongside Ukrainian soldiers, gather outside a hospital in the town of Brovary as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, near Kyiv , Ukraine, March 20, 2022. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

March 20, 2022

By Abdelaziz Boumzar and Marko Djurica

BROVARY, Ukraine (Reuters) – Three U.S. volunteer militants who have risked their lives alongside Ukrainian soldiers said they joined the fight against Russian forces to stop civilian suffering and in the name of freedom.

The group, including a New York college student who works at JFK Airport, spoke of their narrow escape after they said the vehicle they were traveling in broke up at the front lines near the capital Kyiv on Sunday drove a land mine.

Reuters has not been able to independently verify the identities of the three foreign fighters or their description of the incident.

A Ukrainian combatant who was with the three at the time was being treated for serious injuries at Brovary Hospital on the outskirts of the capital.

“We thought he was dead, he was slumped and not responding,” Alexis Antilla, who served as combat medic for the fighter team and was herself injured in the blast, told Reuters at the hospital.

“As the fire started consuming him, he started waking up and we were able to get him out,” she said.

A few hours after the incident, Antilla said a second landmine detonated shortly after the first, and ammunition rounds the group was carrying flew past their heads.

Despite the close encounter with death, she said she wanted to return to the front once her injuries had healed.

“I felt called to come here, I felt it was the right thing to do, I feel like what’s happening here, what Putin is doing, is evil,” she said.

“There is no need to inflict the suffering and anguish on millions and millions of people that they are going through and I felt I had to be here to help in any way I could.”

Tennessee’s Red Taylor said the Ukrainian spoke good English with them and spotted the landmine, but that the group “couldn’t even count a second between the time he said there were landmines everywhere and the ‘boom’.”

Their commander, who called himself Rob and said he was from Connecticut, has been fighting in Ukraine for three weeks.

“I don’t like what they’re doing to civilians and what they’re doing to all these people. My boys and I feel the same way. There must be justice in this world for people who want to live free and that’s what we’re fighting for,” he said.

Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, calling it a “special operation” to demilitarize Ukraine and capture nationalists. While heavily outnumbered, Ukrainian forces are putting up significant resistance.

Ukraine has also set up an international legion for people from abroad, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has publicly called on foreigners to come and fight alongside Ukrainians against the Russians, whom he describes as “war criminals”.

Zelenskyi said more than 16,000 foreigners volunteered without specifying how many had arrived.

(Reporting by Abdelaziz Boumzar and Marko Djurica; Writing by Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Hugh Lawson) US militants say they feel compelled to join Ukraine’s cause

Bobby Allyn

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