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Hundreds want to join new Ukrainian legion in Poland, Polish media reports

by Elsa Court July 10, 2024 11:18 AM 3 min read
Ukrainian soldiers prepare to take part in military training with French servicemen in Poland.
Ukrainian soldiers prepare to take part in military training with French servicemen at a military training compound at an undisclosed location in Poland, on April 4, 2024. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP via Getty Images)
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Hundreds of Ukrainians in Poland have expressed interest in joining a new legion of Ukraine's army that will be trained in Poland, just days after President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the plans, Polish news outlet RMF reported on July 10.

RMF said that "hundreds of Ukrainians living in Poland have already expressed their willingness to join the Ukrainian legion," citing an unofficial source in one of Ukraine's diplomatic missions.

"These people have applied, even though the recruitment for this formation has not yet been announced," RMF said.

The legion was officially announced as part of the security agreement signed by President Volodymyr Zelensky and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk on July 8, which laid out further developments in political, economic, and military cooperation between Ukraine and Poland.

Unlike other specific legions in the Ukrainian Armed Forces, such as the Georgian Legion, the Freedom of Russia Legion, and the Belarusian Pahonia Regiment, the legion will be made up of Ukrainians.

"The Ukrainian legion will train in Poland and be equipped with the help of our partners," Zelensky said.

"Every Ukrainian citizen who decides to join the legion will be able to sign a contract with the Ukrainian Armed Forces," Zelensky said, adding that "our teams are currently working out all the details."

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Preliminary estimates suggest that "several thousand" Ukrainians may request to join the legion, and the opportunity to apply may be opened to Ukrainians living in other European countries, RMF said.

"Efforts are underway to have other EU countries participate in the costs of training and equipment," as Warsaw is convinced that "training the Ukrainian legion is also an investment in European security," RMF said.

The legion would most likely be trained in military bases that have already been training Ukrainian soldiers, as around 20,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been trained in Poland since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion, RMF said.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said on May 31 that Warsaw considered Ukraine's request for military instructors to be sent to Ukraine, but "came to the conclusion that it would be both safer and more effective to train a Ukrainian unit formed of Ukrainians in Poland."

Sikorski said in April that forcibly returning men of draft age to Ukraine is "ethically ambiguous" and Ukraine, rather than Poland, will have to "take the initiative" in the process.

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