"I can't bear to see children die." Stories of foreigners defending Ukraine
28 April, 2022
Volunteer fighters who came to fight for Ukraine with volunteer Raisa Shmatko Photo: Mykhailo Meshcherinov / hromadske

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Canadian sniper Wali, former US intelligence analyst Malcolm Nance, and thousands of volunteers from France, UK, the United States, China, Poland and other countries are currently fighting on Ukraine's side. Each soldier has his own motivation: some have a sincere desire to help, others have personal accounts with the Russians.

Доброволець поляк Болек, який приїхав воювати за Україну

Polish volunteer Bolek, who came to fight for Ukraine. Photo: Mykhailo Meshcherinov / hromadske

Pole Bolek: "I'd rather come here myself than my children do later"

Pole Bolek lives in Germany and works as a plumber. He has a wife, three children and two grandchildren. Many years ago, Bolek served as a sniper in the Polish army, but never took part in hostilities until the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"When I saw that the war had started, I was shocked and couldn't believe it. But with each passing day, it became more and more clear to me that I should come here. Because I couldn't stand aside. I can't bear to see children die."

The Polish soldier has been fighting in Ukraine for almost two months. He came under rocket fire at the Yavoriv test site. And as soon as the Kyiv Oblast was liberated, he was in Bucha. There he saw the atrocities of the Russians with his own eyes.

"Russians are worse than animals. Because the latter kill only when they are hungry. But the Russians, when they feel helpless, start killing, torturing, raping children, and victimizing soldiers."

Bolek is convinced that if the Russians are not stopped in Ukraine, they will commit atrocities in Poland and further throughout Europe. This is how he justified his desire to fight in Ukraine to his wife and children.

"After a lengthy conversation, I explained to them that it would be better for me to go to war than for them to engage in hostilities when the Russians come to Europe."

Доброволець аргентинець Ігнасіо, який приїхав воювати за Україну

Volunteer Argentine Ignacio, who came to fight for Ukraine. Photo: Raisa Shmatko / hromadske

Argentine Ignacio: "I help good people"

This is the first time Argentine Ignacio found himself on the European continent. He lives in Buenos Aires where he has a ballpoint pen manufacturing business. Ignacio has a dog and loves spending time with friends. His usual life changed when he learned that a war had broken out thousands of miles from his home.

"I believe that Ukrainian people are suffering from Russian aggression. And first of all I want to help. My job as a good person is to help other good people."

Ignacio is a reservist of the Argentine Armed Forces. He has never been to the war before, but believes that he now has an excellent experience, because there is a lot to be learned from the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He did not come alone and brought a friend from Colombia. And although the two, like many other legionnaires, do not understand Ukrainian, they easily find a common language with their peers — and not only with Ukrainians.

"People from Bosnia, Poland, America, people from all over the world are helping Ukraine here."

Доброволець боснієць Сенад, який приїхав воювати за Україну

Senad, a Bosnian volunteer who came to fight for Ukraine. Photo: Mykhailo Meshcherinov / hromadske

Bosniak Senad: "Russians killed my relatives"

Bosnian Senad lives between two countries: Poland and France. In Warsaw he has a wife and children, and in France he works and has a construction business. Senad will never forget what happened in his native Bosnia and Herzegovina 27 years ago.

"Once upon a time many Russians came to my land and killed my family. My acquaintances. They destroyed my country as they are destroying Ukraine today."

Then, in 1995, Senad, his family and friends also fought. He recalls that Bosnians were being killed in a very brutal way by the Russians at the time. That's why he has personal accounts with them. And he is ready to lay down his life, as long as the Russians are defeated.

"I and all the men from the International Legion — we do not have to return alive. If we die, the Ukrainian flag will proudly hang on our coffins and we will be proudly returned to our land. Unlike Russian dogs, which will rot in the Ukrainian soil."

Senad believes that if the Russians are not defeated here and now, the world can forget about security. Therefore, in the Russo-Ukrainian war, he also protects his family living in Poland. After all, after the Russians killed his family in 1995, he can no longer afford to take a chance on them.