‘I just want to go help people’: Some Americans try to join the fight in Ukraine

Former Marine combat veteran Dennis Diaz watched helplessly as images splashed across his television screen of Ukrainian women and children hunkering down to shelter from Russian invaders.

The unrest reminded him of why he enlisted in the military in 2000 and pushed him — now, after 18 years in the reserves — to head into battle again.

Only this time his duty is pledged to Ukraine.

“Russia crossed the line by attacking civilians. It’s pretty much like no holds barred,” Diaz, 39, a Burlington, Connecticut, father of four, told NBC News. “It’s not good at all.”

Diaz is among the Americans responding to a call from Ukranian President VolodymyrZelenskyy, who on Sunday asked “friends of peace and democracy” to join the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine to help the country fight Russia.

Zelenskyy said Thursday that 16,000 foreigners had joined the new brigade, a number NBC News could not immediately confirm. It is not clear how many of them are Americans.

Andrew Bennett plans to be among them.

“To be honest with you for the longest time, I felt like I had no direction in my life as far as, you know, single guy, no kids, no wife, just going to work and you know, just coming home paying bills,” the 45-year-old, who lives in Bayonne, New Jersey, said. “These people that are fighting for their freedom and their lives, they’re literally backed in the corner.”

Russian forces have made gains in southern Ukraine and taken over Europe’s largest nuclear power plant since its assault on its neighbor began more than a week ago. But Russia has not managed to topple Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital and the seat of its Western-leaning government. That effort has been stymied, in part, by stiff resistance from Ukrainians — trained soldiers and civilians alike.

Bennett said he’s waiting for his replacement passport to arrive so he can make the trip to join them.

Posted by Yahoo News

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