Foreigners who travel to Ukraine to fight alongside Ukrainian forces during the war with Russia can receive Ukrainian citizenship, a top official said on March 9.
First Deputy Interior Minister Yevhen Yenin said the growing number of volunteers sign a contract and get military papers, Ukrinform reported. Volunteers are eligible for citizenship, he also said.
“If such foreign nationals are interested in obtaining Ukrainian citizenship, our legislation provides for them such an opportunity,” Yenin was quoted as saying.
Ukraine recently created an international bridge composed of people from other countries who join the fight against Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February.
Ukrainian President Volodymy Zelensky called shortly after the conflict began for foreigners to help Ukraine and Zelensky said in early March that some 16,000 had volunteered.
As of Wednesday, that number was up to 20,000, according to the Kyiv Independent.
Britons who volunteered said they did so because they felt it was the right thing to do.
Ukraine has also been bolstered by tens of thousands of men reportedly returning from abroad.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov warned Western volunteers that they would be considered combatants and officials from countries sending military assistance to Ukraine had mixed responses to Zelensky’s call.
Several top American officials said Americans shouldn’t join the war.
“For those who want to help Ukraine and help its people, there are many ways to do that, including by supporting and helping the many NGOs that are working to provide humanitarian assistance; providing resources themselves to groups that are trying to help Ukraine by being advocates for Ukraine and for peaceful resolution to this crisis that was created by Russia,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a briefing on March 2.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, though, said she supported British citizens who wanted to join Ukrainian’s military.
“Absolutely, if that is what they want to do,” she said on BBC. However, British troops who leave to Ukraine face prosecution, the UK’s defense chief said.
A senior U.S. military official, meanwhile, told reporters on a call this week that reports Russia was recruiting Syrian fighters to help them against Ukraine were credible.
The United States thinks it’s “noteworthy” that Russian President Vladimir Putin “indicated a willingness to rely on foreign fighters to fight the war in Ukraine,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.