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If You Volunteer To Fight In Ukraine, Russia Will Treat You As A Mercenary And Try You As A Criminal

I have an acquaintance who is actually now going to risk their life overseas (not in Ukraine) over helping Ukraine refugees. Real lives are being turned upside down. You are not “pro-Russian” for holding up your hand and saying, “Let’s stop and think about the consequences of what we are doing.” (But then again — nobody asked you.)

But what about fighting? What is the legal status of international military volunteers in Ukraine? As a practical matter, is it wise to go there knowing that it’s only a matter of time before Russia conquers the land with overwhelming force? (My opinion)

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov:

“None of the mercenaries the West is sending to Ukraine to fight for the nationalist regime will enjoy the right of combatants under international humanitarian law.”

https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/russia-ukraine-crisis/foreign-mercenaries-wont-be-treated-as-prisoners-of-war-warns-russian-defence-ministry-articleshow.html

“‘At best, they can expect to be prosecuted as criminals,’ Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said, according to the official Tass news agency.”

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2022/mar/3/russia-says-foreigners-caught-fighting-ukraine-won/

Claire Finkelstein, founder and academic director, Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law:

“says any volunteers ‘will fall into the category of civilians directly participating in hostilities, and that makes them targetable by the enemy.’”

“‘They’re not going to get any breaks’ under international law, she added in an interview with Military.com.”

“More importantly, Finkelstein noted that, in the event of a volunteer’s capture by the Russians, ‘they will be unlikely to be treated with full POW status’ under the Geneva Conventions. For Americans, this should be an especially strong worry, she added.”

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2022/03/02/ukraine-wants-foreign-reinforcements-will-american-civilians-fight.html

“It’s really important that those who fight for a state fight as an integrated part of that state and not as a contractor, because then the state is taking responsibility for them.” – Finkelstein

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2022/03/02/ukraine-wants-foreign-reinforcements-will-american-civilians-fight.html

“However, application forms posted by the Ukrainian Embassy in the U.S. specifically make volunteers acknowledge that they are joining ‘under a contract on a voluntary basis’“

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2022/03/02/ukraine-wants-foreign-reinforcements-will-american-civilians-fight.html

“On Friday, the Ukrainian Embassy spokesman told Military.com that volunteers would not be paid a salary so as not to make them ‘mercenaries.’”

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2022/03/02/ukraine-wants-foreign-reinforcements-will-american-civilians-fight.html

American legal scholar Jonathan Turkey says Russia’s approach is incorrect:

“The Russian position is akin to saying that the French Foreign Legion would be treated as mercenaries because it includes non-French volunteers. The Legion famously opens its ranks to ‘recruits from all over the world.’ Likewise, the estimated 16,000 foreign fighters are being organized under the ‘Ukrainian Foreign Legion’ and requires a commitment of a year or longer of service.”

https://jonathanturley.org/2022/03/06/yes-foreign-fighters-in-ukraine-are-covered-under-the-geneva-conventions-as-combatants/

Whichever one is right, do you really want to take that chance?


By Dr. Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal. All opinions are the author’s own. Public domain.

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