Ukraine has formed an International Brigade made up of foreigners to help his country fight off a Russian invasion launched last week,  According to the statement on President Zelensky’s website,

“All foreigners wishing to join the resistance against the Russian occupiers and protect global security are invited by the Ukrainian leadership to come to our state and join the ranks of the territorial defense forces,”

Before you sign on the dotted line and join the resistance against the Rooskies, here is what you need to know.

The Age Limit

You need to be between 18-40 to sign up and be able-bodied.  They will probably require you to have a physical at your own expense to prove you are in good health as a condition to joining up.  They will take you up to age 60 under a waiver if you have some special skill they need.

The Pay

Don’t expect to get rich. A front-line private in Ukraine’s army pulls down about $430 a month and a second-line soldier gets about $200 a month, so you better be down for the cause of saving democracy in Europe because you sure won’t be saving the minimum wage law over there.  You do get fed, clothed, and housed for free and free medical care as well. We think it’s tax-free too, or at least it better be.  It’s kind of nuts for you to join the army and then get your pay taxed to pay the salaries of people who join the army.

Actually, the United States does that, so it is nuts.

You Have To Sign A Contract

If you think being a “volunteer” means you can un-volunteer and just go home whenever you want, guess again.  You have to sign a three-year contract, which given the dismal showing of the Russian army so far, you might find yourself obligated to serve in the International Brigade long after the war is over.

You May Not Be Sent To The Front To Fight Ivan At All

Unless you have recent combat experience or other current and critical skills, you may not ever see any action at all.  Members of the International Brigade will present a delicate political situation for Ukraine’s government.  If they send you over the trenches in a human wave attack and you all get slaughtered it will look bad in the papers.  So you may find yourself relegated to being a gate guard at a base or driving a truck to free up another Ukrainian soldier to go to the front and fight.  And he is not likely to be happy about that.

Bring Your Own Clothes, Warm Ones

Ukraine is fighting an existential war of survival and there will be shortages that could mean you are underequipped because the best gear is going to the front line units so you might consider bringing your own stuff.

The climate in the country is a lot like Minnesota, with brutally cold winters and very hot summers, and most places are not air-conditioned. You should be able to find surplus uniforms on eBay and other websites and we suggest buying the warmest stuff you can find and your own footgear. Don’t neglect warm socks, gloves, and one of those fur hats.

Whatever you do, don’t try to bring your own gun, it’s illegal to transport firearms internationally and you will be thrown in prison.  Ukraine will issue you one. We understand they have recently acquired a large stock of Russian AK-12s, never been fired and only dropped once.

You Will Be Serving Under Ukrainian Officers And NCOs

Just because you are a volunteer, don’t expect any special treatment, you will be serving under Ukrainian Officers and NCOs who aren’t going to be cutting you much slack.  In fact, since you are an American representing our country in a sense, you better be prepared to do it harder and better so you do us all proud back here in the states.  Don’t expect anything like serving in the U.S. Military.  Your role in the fight against Climate Change and Critical Race Theory lectures won’t be a part of your training.

You Will Probably Have To Repeat Bootcamp

You don’t think they will just hand you a rifle and give you a shove towards the front, do you?  You will probably have to attend some form of basic training to test your physical conditioning and to learn their regulations and military customs and they will expect you to do things their way.  It might be a good idea to try to learn something of the language before you go, especially phrases like, “Not that way ***hole, it’s a minefield.”

You Might Find Yourself In a Morally Compromising Position

The way of warfare in Eastern Europe is, shall we say, very different from the American way of war. This is a war being waged by a country being invaded and they are pretty pissed about it.  The fight will often be mixed up among the civilian population and the Russian army is not well known for being kind to civilians in occupied territory.  You may find yourself in a position where atrocities and war crimes occur. You better be prepared to draw a hard line about what you will and will not do while under arms over there. You don’t want to come back to the states and be charged with committing war crimes.  Even though you are in Ukraine’s army you are still a U.S. citizen and you are bound by U.S. laws, you get all medieval over there and you could get in a lot of trouble back home

You Will Probably Have To Go To Ukraine Just To Sign Up

U.S. law forbids a foreign country from engaging in military recruitment within the United States. The current laws are set forth in Section 958-960 of Title 18 of the United States Code. A Supreme Court case involving Americans who went to Cuba to help them fight for independence from Spain, Wiborg v. U.S. , 163 U.S. 632 (1896), upheld a lower court ruling that it was not a crime under U.S. law for a citizen to leave the country for the purpose of enlisting in a foreign army, but if someone has been recruited or hired in the United States, a violation of the law may have occurred.  This means the Ukraine embassy here in the U.S.  will be very limited in terms of what they can do here in the U.S. when it comes to recruiting you for military service. You may have to fly to Ukraine to sign up, so buy a round trip ticket in case they reject you for some reason.

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You Probably Won’t Lose Your Citizenship For Joining The Ukrainian Army

Despite what you may have heard, you can actually an serve in a foreign military as long as it isn’t at war with the United States and you meet a few other conditions.  The government can’t just strip you of your citizenship without due process of law.  This is not the same thing as being a mercenary since you will be serving in uniform in Ukraine and you are not a free-lancer working just for yourself.  The UN does have a Mercenary Convention that makes being a mercenary illegal, but counties like the US, UK and Russia declined to sign on to the convention because they all operate Private Military Contracting companies.

If an American joined the French Foreign Legion they weren’t automatically stripped of their citizenship unless they do certain things, like renounce their citizenship in some overt manner or accept a commission as an officer or NCO, but serving in a foreign military alone is not enough to revoke your nationality as a U.S. citizen.  There is actually a pretty long history of Americans serving in foreign armies and we actually owe our own independence  in part to French and German nationals joining the Continental army like Count Von Stueben and the Marquis de Lafayette.  During WWI there was a French Airforce squadron made up of American pilots.  During the Spanish Civil War, there was the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. During WWII, Americans joined the Canadian, British and Chinese militaries to fight against the Germans and Japanese. None of these people were stripped of citizenship.  In the case of the American Volunteer Group, the “Flying Tigers” when the U.S. entered WWII, quite a few of them wanted to remain in China to fight because the pay was so good.  The U.S. told them to come back and be restored to their former rank in the army or Navy or be stripped of their citizenship. What none of them knew at the time was that the AVG was a clandestine government program to help China which provided the planes, support equipment and even their pay to the Chinese government.  So, they were still working for the Uncle Sam, they just didn’t know it.  So if you want to come back to the U.S. afterwards, don’t let them promote you to NCO or accept a commission.

That being said, it would probably be a good idea to prepare a notarized letter saying that by joining the Ukrainian army you aren’t renouncing your citizenship in the U.S. and you intend to return. Before the U.S. can revoke your citizenship they have to prove that you intended to renounce your citizenship and a properly notarized letter like that would serve as some proof that you weren’t quitting the U.S. permanently.

Get Your Affairs In Order

You are going off to fight in a war, and you could very well be killed doing it.  So make a will and file it with the court where you live and make some arrangements to have your body shipped home unless you want to be buried in Ukraine which will probably be the case unless you make other arrangements in advance.  Don’t leave it to your family to deal with.

Keep Your Mouth Shut

It’s probably a bad idea to tell the whole world on social media that you are off to slaughter the Rooskies in Ukraine.  You might be captured and the Russians could use these public statements against you in a trial. The Russians don’t treat POWs very well as a matter of record and your Facebook post about how you will personally nail Putin’s balls to the front door of the Kremlin would be an invitation for them to treat you even worse.

So, if you are still thinking of signing up, contact the military attache of Ukraine’s embassy here in the U.S. if you can actually get through to them, their website is unavailable right now because of traffic volume or the Russians attacking it.


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