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Thursday, May 19, 2022

US volunteers arrive at the war front in Ukraine

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American volunteers have been seen on video footage from the front lines in Ukraine, suggesting that the international legion fighting alongside the Ukrainian army is playing an increasingly active role.

Two video clips featuring American fighters appeared on Twitter on Thursday: one showing an American in combat gear posing in front of the burned-out remains of what he said was a Russian tank. Off camera, a Ukrainian yells “Welcome to America!” and the American repeats the phrase.

Related: Ukraine uses facial recognition software to identify Russian soldiers killed in combat

In the other, narrated by a different soldier with an American accent, it shows a detachment of soldiers taking refuge in a wall by a road, in a town that the narrator claims to have recaptured from the Russians.

The first video was posted by James Vasquez, a US Army veteran and construction contractor from Connecticut, who, according to his Twitter account, arrived in Poland on March 15 and crossed into Ukraine the next day, bringing several surveillance drones with him. . He was sent to the front from Lviv on March 18.

“I feel like I’m on an amazing and very dangerous vacation,” he said. And in another tweet: “When I need to prepare for battle, all I think about is the most beatable face on the planet… Tucker Carlson.”

Related: Canada prohibits its soldiers from joining the Ukrainian Foreign Legion

He gives an account of patrolling Ukraine passing through numerous checkpoints and showing his passport.

“They are…surprised to see a US passport when I got to the checkpoints,” he said. “They let me through because they think it’s amazing that an American soldier is here to fight alongside them.”

In his account of Thursday’s battle for an unnamed town, Vasquez said he was tasked with “finding a group of discovered Russians hiding by civilians” and used a drone to try to spot them.

A few hours later, he tweeted: “I just went through 6 hours straight fighting. I have a crazy video that I will post later. 2 men were shot, but they’ll be fine. a fatality.”

Initial accounts from the international legion suggested that the foreign volunteers were a mixed bag, many inexperienced. The military news website Task&Purpose reported that there was “a swarm of fantasists for every combat-experienced candidate.”

“Apparently, the selection follows no discernible process other than separating those without military experience from those who do. The former go through a four-week training course; the latter receive a weapon and are sent to the front in ad-hoc units with a Ukrainian officer,” the Ukraine report says.

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