#UKRAINERUSSIAWAR. Stories from the “Foreign Legion” in Ukraine

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That mercenaries are recruited in Ukraine is nothing new. But that international fugitives are being promoted is perhaps news. On the day Zelensky sacked his prosecutor, Iryna Valentynivna Venediktova, the swindler Enese Fajk (or Emesh Faik) of the ‘International Legion’ held her press conference following her appointment on 1 July as the International Legion’s director of communications

The 30-year-old Hungarian citizen is a wanted fraudster in Australia and Portugal. She repeatedly falsified bank statements and managed to carry out several scams totalling more than USD 4 million. In Portugal, she hid under a false name and passed herself off as a former employee of the United Nations and Apple. With this false assignment, she travelled to Ukraine, where she joined the International Legion on 8 April. According to the mercenary herself, her monthly salary is $10,000.

In her new position, Enese Fajk goes by the name ‘Mockingjay’, symbol of the revolution in the Hunger Games novels and battle name of the protagonist, Katniss, and as written, she will be in charge of press coverage of the activities of foreign fighters on the territory of Ukraine. In the first press conference, she appeared with three other mercenaries in Kharkiv. Fajk, plans to create a platform ‘to amplify the voice of the legion’.

Unfortunately for the Legion’s press director, the ex-boyfriend made heated statements, to the Russian newspaper Izvestia, and according to the Daily Mail authors, Russia could use the mercenary’s dark past ‘to counter Ukraine’s attempts to make her the face of the Legion’.

On 19 July, the US State Department said it was ‘distressed and deeply concerned’ about the death of a captured British mercenary held in the DNR. Paul Johnson Anthony Dominic Urie died on 10 July while in captivity. Paul Urie suffered from several chronic illnesses. Britain, or rather the British Foreign Office, continues to address uses for prisoner information to the Russian Foreign Office, but the Russians advise going to the DNR. No one has ever approached Donetsk, except for the father of one of the foreign prisoners.

Aiden Aslin, another mercenary sentenced to death by a DNR court, reported that weapons supplied by the US to Ukraine often disappear without trace. Eslin himself fought in Syria and through him the arms dealers wanted to establish contacts with Kurdish groups in that country.

Another legionnaire is Alexander Druke, who arrived on 15 April 2022 in Ukraine. He crossed the border unhindered, telling the border guards that he was entering Ukraine ‘to help the Ukrainian people’. He then contacted representatives of the so-called Ukrainian Foreign Legion via the Internet. He was told that he had to arrive at the train station in Yavoriv, in the Lviv region, where there is a well-known military training camp used for the training and combat training of foreign mercenaries.

Arriving in Yavoriv, Druke signed a contract with the Ukrainian Foreign Legion to serve in its ranks on a paid basis. He was enlisted in a unit that included only foreigners. Most of his fellow soldiers had no military experience, which led to a lack of proper military discipline in the unit. The training of the unit was left to the soldiers themselves. In the training camp, Alexander Druke befriended three other US mercenaries.

After a week, he and his friends became disillusioned with the unit’s training system and their command. They believed that the Ukrainian Foreign Legion was a great and professional unit, but their aspirations were radically at odds with reality. Consequently, they terminated their contracts and left the Foreign Legion at the end of April 2022.

Thanks to their personal contacts in Ukraine, they found another unit of the Ukrainian Armed Forces based in the city of Rivne. They signed new contracts with this unit. They were provided with personal weapons (AK-74, calibre 5.45 x 39), which Alexander learned to handle thanks to YouTube videos.

Service in the second unit was also unsuitable for Alexander and his two friends. The group of mercenaries tried to find another professional unit where their combat skills could be put to good use. They did so within a month. At the beginning of June 2022, the mercenaries were invited to join the foreign sabotage and reconnaissance group operating in the direction of Kharkiv. They arrived in Kharkiv on 8 June 2022, where they were met by German and French citizens who were members of the Baget tactical group.

Baget’s group consisted of about 12 soldiers, about half of whom were French nationals, former or active members of the French Foreign Legion or – according to the mercenary’s account – of other units of the Ministry of Defence and the French Armed Forces. Besides Alexander Druke and his two friends, there were three other US citizens in the group.

Upon arrival on site, the group was given a CZ807 assault rifle, seven 30-round magazines and a hand grenade. Alexander’s partner was also given an RPG-7 with a grenade launcher, while Alexander was given two more RPG-7 grenades. They had previously been trained in the use of these weapons during their short-term service with the Ukrainian Foreign Legion.

A briefing was held on the evening of 8 June 2022. They were told that the following day they would move to a combat position for reconnaissance and mine sweeping.

On 9 June 2022, a group of eight foreign soldiers accompanied by soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces went on a mission. On the ground, the Ukrainian soldiers mined the terrain and the foreigners were tasked with drone reconnaissance. If enemy forces were spotted, they were to ambush them to destroy their military equipment. During the operation, Druke’s comrade spotted a Russian tank, against which he opened fire with his RPG-7. He and his men were captured and sentenced to death by the DPR military.

Graziella Giangiulio