Pro-Ukraine Russian fighters? Yes, they do exist.

Early this March, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry revealed to the world that the Russians were actively fighting for the Ukrainian side amidst all Russian forces advancing to Kyiv.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry claimed that these former Russian soldiers decided to switch sides and create the “Freedom of Russia” Legion. According to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, several hundred of soldiers wanted to join when it was launched, especially since it was relatively easy for the Russian soldiers to do so. All they needed to do was to apply in writing, and then the applicant would be thoroughly interviewed and background checked by Ukraine’s Security Services and Counter-Intelligence. However, it is essential to note that Russian POWs can also join and that it is entirely voluntary.

Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Aleksey Arestovich also added that they were stringent about this process to prevent FSB officers and Russian soldiers who just wanted to escape Ukraine from joining the legion or compromising it as spies. He notes that a double polygraph test is done on candidates to ensure their intentions.

Members of the Freedom of Russia Legion receiving donations of food from volunteers (NEXTA). Source:
Members of the Freedom of Russia Legion receiving donations of food from volunteers (NEXTA/Twitter)

The group’s slogan is “For Russia, for freedom”—an apparent reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s national rhetoric. This also indirectly relates to the May 9 Victory Day Parade in Moscow, where Putin ended the speech with “For Russia, for victory.”

On May 11, Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Aleksey Arestovich reported that the Freedom of Russia Legion members have been sent to the frontlines and are doing very well. However, we cannot confirm how many pro-Ukrainian Russian troops are currently in the legion.

“On the front line. They are fighting very well. There are several dozen, it’s like a separate unit disguised as the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” Arestovich said.

“The number of applications to the legion, including the Russian army, is off the scale. They don’t have time to consider it. I see how the legion is marching across Russia. Because they send me dozens of pictures every day, where they once again drew the letter” L,” once again with the legion’s name, and so on, there is its own music, its own subculture,” he added.