Foreign fighters in Ukraine complain of arms shortages – media

Foreign volunteers in Ukraine are refusing to fight due to a lack of weapons, Canadian media report
Foreign fighters in Ukraine complain of arms shortages – media

The massive inflow of weapons into Ukraine from the West isn’t reaching many of the soldiers who actually need them, the Toronto Star reported last week. Time constraints, incompetence and corruption are resulting in poorly equipped frontline fighters, the newspaper claimed.

The report, which was based on interviews with foreign volunteer combatants and a Canadian group fundraising to equip soldiers in Ukraine, is the latest evidence of what the paper called “a dark and discouraging reality” on the country’s frontlines.

Some experienced foreign fighters who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are refusing to go into battle due to the lack of proper arms and equipment, according to a Canadian veteran of the French Foreign Legion. Ukrainian officials treat all foreign volunteers as a bunch of gun-happy folk out to kill someone no matter what, the anonymous Canadian complained.

“You’ve got the other group that is, like, ‘Oh, I just want to kill Russians! Send me to the front! I’m happy with only three magazines and an AK-47. I don’t need plates or a helmet,’” he told the Star. “It’s those other ones that set the standard.”

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Part of the problem is that Ukraine is not taking the time to properly prepare people before sending them to the frontline. Kurtis Pasqualle, a US combat medic teaching his skills to volunteers, says he only gets two to three weeks to complete the course, which would normally require four months. And it’s unclear how much good the medics he trains can do because acquiring medicines like powerful painkillers is “next to impossible” where they are going, he said.

The shortages contrast sharply with the influx of military aid that Ukraine is receiving from Western nations, including Canada. This is partially due to logistical problems, the Star reported, citing a Ukrainian official and a Canadian donor group. However, there are also cases of “either incompetence or interference,” it said, citing several recent cases of corruption.

Last week, a military administration head in western Ukraine was arrested for allegedly using donated ambulances to operate a for-profit service. In April, a city mayor was arrested for allegedly taking a bribe in exchange for assigning a donated minibus to another party. And in southern Ukraine, an employee was arrested for allegedly selling weapons on the black market, including an anti-tank grenade launcher.

The Star recalled that last year the Global Organized Crime Index described Ukraine as “one of the largest arms trafficking markets in Europe.” The Canadian Defense Department relies solely on its Ukrainian counterpart to ensure that weapons sent to the country by Ottawa are used to fight Russia, the newspaper added.

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