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Image absorb Reuters Image explanation Rafa Munoz Perez, a Spaniard confined with the rebels in Donetsk, wears a Spanish Republic wristband

French, Spanish, Swedish or Serb, the foreigners angry for both abandon in east Ukraine’s blood-soaked battle barrage from beyond Europe and appear with a amazing arrangement of agendas.

The non-mercenaries amid them are motivated by causes which can amplitude aback to the wars in the above Yugoslavia – and alike added still, to the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s.

Russia is the albatross in the room, dwarfing any added adopted nationality, although it is more adamantine to disentangle Russians angry as volunteers from approved soldiers allegedly deployed on buried missions.

Ukraine’s pro-Russian rebels like to allocution up their adopted advance fighters, presenting them as latter-day International Brigades angry “fascism”. Meanwhile there has been some agitation in Kiev on the acumen of creating a Ukrainian “Foreign Legion”.

Here we attending at some of the adopted fighters by country of origin, in a abnormality which, in a baby way, mirrors that of adolescent Muslims from Britain and added genitalia of Europe travelling to the Middle East to activity in its wars.


It is no abstruse that Russian citizens acquire active chief posts amid the rebels, the best acclaimed of them actuality Igor “Strelkov” Girkin, who reportedly captivated the rank of assets colonel in Russia’s Federal Aegis Service as backward as aftermost year.

Media playback is bottomless on your accessory Media captionHopes of any absolute advance assume to be diminishing, as Nick Childs reports

There is able affirmation that rank-and-file Russian fighters acquire entered east Ukraine to accompany the rebels, but whether they are volunteers authoritative accepted account with indigenous Russians in Luhansk and Donetsk, or mercenaries, is a blah area.

Rebel baton Alexander Zakharchenko has declared about that amid 3.000 and 4,000 Russian “volunteers” acquire fought for the rebels aback the alpha of the insurgence in April.

“There are additionally abounding in the accepted Russian aggressive that adopt to absorb their leave amid us, brothers who are angry for their freedom, rather than on a beach,” he said on 28 August.

Image absorb Oliver Carroll Image explanation Chechen fighter Ruslan Arsayev

Evidence has army that approved Russian soldiers are involved, with 10 paratroopers captured central Ukraine and aberrant affirmation of aggressive casualties at home in Russia.

Chechens, both from Russia’s Republic of Chechnya and from the anti-Russian banishment active in exile, are believed to be complex on both abandon of the conflict, but predominantly angry for the rebels.

A apache who presented himself as a Chechen alleged Ruslan Arsayev told the Mashable account website in an account he was angry for Ukraine because he wouldn’t “bend over for Putin”.

At the scene: Oliver Carroll, announcer alive in Ukraine

A cardinal of adopted fighters serve in the Aidar advance army currently angry in east Ukraine. Chechen Ruslan Arsayev is conceivably the best colourful example. An army adept of six aggressive campaigns, Ruslan came to Ukraine to activity during the Maidan revolution. He was afflicted twice, already seriously, aback a ammo punctured his lung.

He comes from a acclaimed ancestors of warriors. One of his brothers was aegis abbot in Aslan Maskhadov’s insubordinate government. Another was bedevilled of hijacking a even en avenue to Moscow in 2001, an activity that resulted in the accident of three lives.

At the Aidar abject abreast Luhansk, Ruslan explained he had appear to Ukraine because of Putin. “Putin has angry my home into Stalin’s Russia, with a dozen informants on every street,” he said. He wasn’t able to acquire Putin’s rule, and predicted an insurgence in Chechnya in the “very, actual near” future.


Some 20 French citizens acquire gone to Ukraine to activity on both sides, French accessible radio base France Info said in a address (in French) on 11 August.

Four of them, including two above soldiers, went to Donetsk to activity for the rebels. They were filmed by Russian bi-weekly Komsomolskaya Pravda assuming with guns.

Their abettor is Victor Lenta, 25, who beforehand told France’s Le Monde bi-weekly (article in French) he had been a anatomical in the Third Marine Infantry Paratroop Regiment and had served in Afghanistan, Ivory Coast and Chad. Another affiliate of the accumulation is Nikola Perovic, additionally 25 and with Serbian ancestry, who additionally reportedly fought in Afghanistan as a anatomical in France’s 13th Mountain Infantry Battalion.

Image absorb Added Image explanation The French accumulation gave Le Monde announcer Pierre Sautreil a photo of Nikola Perovic captivation up a French banderole in the southern Donetsk arena on 11 August

They told Le Monde they were the founders of an ultra-nationalist movement alleged Continental Unity, which has organised demonstrations in France and Serbia in abutment of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Serbian war crimes doubtable Vojislav Seselj.

In their view, according to Le Monde, Russia is the final barrier adjoin advanced globalisation which they accede “responsible for the abatement in civic ethics and accident of French sovereignty”.

Their basic role amid the rebels, apparently, is to accommodate action training for recruits from West European countries.

Gaston Besson, on the added hand, has been angry for the Ukrainian government as a affiliate of its Azov advance battalion, a assemblage accepted for its far-right associations.

Aged 47, he nonetheless describes himself as a “leftwing revolutionary”, according to France Info. Appear to be a above paratrooper, he is said to acquire fought in antecedent conflicts alignment from Croatia to Colombia

He is accepted for his efforts to recruit added foreigners and, according to a Eurasianet article, wrote in June: “Every day I accept dozens of requests to accompany us by email, abnormally from countries like Finland, Norway and Sweden.”

At the scene: Pierre Sautreuil, French announcer alive in Ukraine

I met the French volunteers for the aboriginal time on 9 July in a bar in Budapest, Hungary. Up until then, our exchanges by buzz had been abrupt and their answers evasive.

The rules for this aboriginal affair were simple: they affectation the questions. They feared I ability be a French intelligence agent. “We can’t assurance you yet.”

After a continued alternation of questions about my background, and my opinions on the Ukrainian crisis, they asked for my authorization and photographed it several times.

“We acquire annihilation but enemies in intelligence,” one of them told me, handing aback my passport. We said our goodbyes.

Next day I got a buzz call: “Our accompany acquire completed their little investigation. You’re clean. We’ll accommodated at 19:00.” And appropriately began my investigation.


For two Spanish leftists, the battle in east Ukraine represents a adventitious to accord what they see as a celebrated favour.

Image absorb Reuters Image explanation Angel Davilla-Rivas (C) and Rafa Munoz Perez (R) in Donetsk

Angel Davilla-Rivas told Reuters account bureau he had appear with his associate Rafa Munoz Perez to activity for the rebels in acceptance of the Soviet Union’s abutment for the Republican ancillary in the Spanish Civil War.

Mr Munoz, 27, is a above amusing artisan from Madrid who has been a affiliate of the adolescence addition of the United Left political movement aback 2010, Spain’s El Pais bi-weekly said in an article. His friend, 22, is from Murcia and belongs to the adolescence addition of a annex of the Spanish Communist Party, the cardboard added.

Mr Davilla-Rivas showed off tattoos of Soviet leaders Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin on his torso.

“I am the alone son, and it hurts my mother and ancestor and my ancestors a lot that I am putting myself at risk. But… I can’t beddy-bye in my bed alive what’s activity on here,” he told Reuters.

There are additionally letters of Spaniards angry on the government side, according to an commodity in the Kyiv Post.


Dozens of Serbs are believed to be angry for the rebels, evidently fatigued by an indigenous and nationalist faculty of adherence with the region’s Russian Orthodox Christians and balance abhorrence appear Nato, apropos the Ukrainian government as its proxy.

However, Belgrade-based aegis able Zoran Dragisic told German anchorperson Deutsche Welle in a address that Serbian fighters were primarily angry as mercenaries and could be begin on both abandon in Ukraine.

“It’s conduct that draws adolescent bodies – some of them about accouchement – to war,” he said.

Meanwhile, there are moves aural Serbia to axis the breeze of fighters branch east with a law that penalises accord in a adopted war.

Sweden Image absorb Mikael Skillt

In an account with the BBC’s Dina Newman, a Swedish assassin with far-right views, Mikael Skillt, said he was angry for the Ukrainian government because he believed in the “survival of white people”. Like France’s Gaston Besson, he is a affiliate of the Azov battalion.

“I would be an idiot if I said I did not appetite to see adaptation of white people,” he said. “After World War Two, the victors wrote their history. They absitively that it’s consistently a bad affair to say I am white and I am proud.”

At the aforementioned time, he added that he planned eventually to activity for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad because he believed Mr Assad was continuing up to “international Zionism”.


Reports that Poles were angry in Ukraine prompted the government in Warsaw to formally abjure that Polish citizens were angry as mercenaries for the Ukrainian government. It went on to acquaint that any Poles who go there to activity could face bastille aloft their return, Deutsche Welle reports.

Leonid Smolinski, a 49-year-old Polish aborigine built-in in Ukraine, was asleep in a insubordinate ambuscade on 12 August while confined in Ukraine’s Dnipro advance battalion, according to Euromaidan Press.

At atomic one Pole has additionally sided with the rebels. In a accent in the insubordinate basic Donetsk, agitated by abolitionist Polish website xportal, Bartosz Becker declared himself as a adumbrative of “Polish chargeless bodies who are adjoin Nato agitator bases in Poland”.


Margarita Zeidler is a above assistant who confused to Ukraine in 2002 for religious affidavit afterwards converting to the Russian Orthodox Church, according to an account with Komsomolskaya Pravda bi-weekly (in Russian).

Image absorb Ivan Chai Image explanation Margarita Zeidler in Sloviansk aback it was beneath insubordinate control. Image: Ivan Chai account bureau

Dismayed by contest in Kiev during the Maidan insurgence over the winter she confused initially to Crimea, again to Donetsk region, she said, afterwards one of her accompany was attempt asleep there in May. She became the rebels’ advice administrator in Sloviansk during its annoy by government forces.

While she describes herself as a journalist, she told the bi-weekly that she consistently keeps an advance burglarize “within reach”.

Speaking in Russian in a video acquaint on YouTube on 11 August, she said she could not “stand by and watch Ukrainian fascists annihilate civilians”.


Despite insubordinate allegations to the contrary, there is little affirmation of American advance captivation on the ground. The barring was a Ukrainian-American alleged Mark Gregory Paslawsky, who had taken Ukrainian citizenship.

Paslawsky, or Franko as he admired to be known, was asleep angry for the Ukrainian government ancillary in the active boondocks of Ilovaisk. In an account for Vice News, the 55-year-old West Point alum and advance broker from New York had explained he capital ultimately to advice basis out bribery in Ukraine, adage “the political aristocratic has to be destroyed here”.

Russian media advance that there are US citizens angry for the rebels too.


Francesco F, 53, enrolled in the Azov army to “fight a acceptable activity adjoin Russia”, the Italian account Panorama appear in an commodity (in Italian) in June.

Already accomplishing business in Ukraine two years afore the abandon erupted, he said he had “found his home alongside Ukrainian nationalists” on the Maidan barricades.

Francesco, who additionally featured in a video address by Il Giornale, has a accomplished in the far appropriate in Italy, according to Panorama.

Other countries

Other nationalities are reportedly complex in the conflict, apparently in baby numbers.

Citizens of Georgia, Belarus, Baltic states, Finland, Norway, Canada, Croatia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, as able-bodied as Russia, are said to be complex as volunteers on the government side.

Rebel baton Alexander Zakharchenko said on 17 August that his adopted volunteers additionally included a cardinal of Turks and Romanians.

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