On February 27, the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, invited foreign nationals to travel to Ukraine and fight against the Russians. This open invitation has caused a stirring from people of different nations to rise as volunteers to fight in Ukraine, and Nigerians are not left out.
The call was publicized on the Ukrainian presidency website and later repeated on Twitter. No doubt the president is trying to recreate the recruitment of international fighters in Europe like the Spanish Civil War support. During the Soviet-backed Republican cause, 50,000 people joined the International Brigade.
The International Legion to fight against the Russians
The Ukrainian president’s invitation has built up what is now called the International Legion, where all foreign military volunteers enlisted are assigned duties. This legion is controlled by the Foreign Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine. Over 3,000 Americans have applied, volunteers from Japan, Britain, Albania, India, France, and some European countries are warming up to defend Ukraine. The Ukrainian embassies have at least 16,000 applications and several hundred arrivals already in Ukraine. But Nigerians are still spurning to join the mix.
About 115 Nigerian youths stormed the Ukrainian embassy in Abuja to enlist in the ongoing war in Ukraine. I believe this is a show of faith and solidarity to help Ukraine because fellow Nigerians are trapped still trapped there. I hope their zeal to charge towards the battlefield is not for anything more than that. Besides, there have been sad videos on social media depicting the struggles and maltreatment of Nigerian students and other expatriates at the Ukraine border.
If Nigerians in the homeland want to help Ukraine, it should be for this reason, by indirectly assisting Nigerians to safety. If volunteers have any other reason that isn’t for peace, democracy and love for humanity (Shinzo wo sasageyo), then I don’t know what else. It’s not worth it.
The Second Secretary at the Ukrainian embassy in Nigeria, Bohdan Soltys, stated that Nigerian volunteers would need to pay $ 1,000, about N418,410 for visas, flight tickets and other expenses, but that is too high. Nigerians, upon hearing this, were displeased and discouraged. The monthly income for volunteering is $3,300, which is roughly N1,381,017. They are simply looking for mercenaries.
There are selfless Nigerians out there, but there are also those who would have their own demands for fighting for Ukraine. Damola, a bitcoin trader in Lagos, demands Ukrainian citizenship, a Schengen visa passport, and to be treated as a war hero. Speaking with Timi, a mobile phone dealer in Delta, he believed that nothing could be offered to him to risk his life in another’s war.
Just like Damola and Timi, Nigerians are getting divided into groups of individuals. The ones who have demands and those who think it is worth it. Apart from this set of people, there is also the whatever comes set of people who are willing to accept whatever the Ukrainians can give. Sadly, it is just a voluntary exercise with little compensation for risking your life. No one is going to give you citizenship or meet your demands.
The risks for embarking on this military expedition away from your country are, of course, extraordinarily great. You may not survive; your life body never recovered because Ukrainian cities, streets, universities have been burnt beyond recognition from missiles and shelling. As a result, the Ukrainian embassy will only allow foreign fighters that meet these requirements:
- documents confirming military service training or work with law enforcement agencies and participation in combat
- have an ID and travel passport ready
- pass your interview with the Ukrainian embassy
- apply for enlistment into the Foreign Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine in writing using their application
- follow instructions given to you to travel to Ukraine
- travel in an organized manner and report to your assigned place of duty for further instructions
Other volunteer types wanted
Honestly, this military expedition is far safer for people who have had military training. Ukraine is at war, so they don’t have time to teach you how to hold a gun and basically why they are soliciting your help. However, besides holding a weapon, there are other things one can do asides from joining the war. Ukraine is looking for trained people, medical doctors, nurses, paramedics and media personnel to help document and tell the stories of the Ukrainians.
The term “fighting another’s battle” demands fighting on their terms. As a foreigner, you must play by the Ukrainian rules, and any contrary acts might get you court-martialed or charged with war crimes. For one, volunteers are not allowed to bring their personal weapons. If you have been looking for a place to unleash your darkest desires, I don’t think this might be the right place.
If you plan to hide juju in your socks, that’s your cup of tea, but if you are caught, it wouldn’t matter that you are a foreigner. You are still answerable to an international court. You will be in another country, you cannot run away or desert, and you have to follow orders strictly.
Amnesty for Russian soldiers
The Ukrainians are offering 5 million rubles, roughly $50,000 and full amnesty to Russian soldiers who lay down their arms and renounce war. As a volunteer, this might freak you out. You may have to see opponents you face on the battlefields, who might have almost wiped out your squad, repenting and getting paid for it. Don’t get mad; this is what you signed up for.
You may get angry that the Ukrainian government offers that much to the Russians and not much to you as a volunteer. Don’t go mad with anger or lose your temper; you are just a volunteer. According to the defence officials in the United States, Ukraine is not really hiring anyone (or giving away anything special); your services are meant to be humanitarian and strictly voluntary.
We hope that the Russia-Ukraine conflict doesn’t escalate more than it should. With all peace talks are going nowhere, no one knows if the conflict will soon end or drag on. What is known is that despite the show of support from western countries to Ukraine, they are formally advising their citizens not to travel to volunteer to fight the Russian invaders. The French and US have reportedly tried to prevent their kin from getting involved with the conflict. Everyone is looking out for their own in these times of war. We just hope that love, peace and justice prevail.
What do you think?
Will you volunteer to fight for Ukraine?
Or do you have another approach in mind?
Please share your answers and ideas in the comment below.