Thais heed call to help Ukraine
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Thais heed call to help Ukraine

Volunteers ready to take the fight to Putin

A group of Thai men show evidence of their military experience on Witthayu Road, Bangkok, where the Ukrainian embassy is located. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool, Bangkok Post)
A group of Thai men show evidence of their military experience on Witthayu Road, Bangkok, where the Ukrainian embassy is located. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool, Bangkok Post)

Being more than 7,000 kilometres from Ukraine has not deterred a group of Thais from volunteering to help the country defend itself.

In a post on its Facebook account on Feb 27, the embassy of Ukraine appealed to foreign citizens to help the country fight against Russia's aggression:

"The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy is addressing all citizens of the world, friends of Ukraine, peace and democracy. Anyone who wants to join the defence of Ukraine, Europe and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians against Russia.

"Foreigners have the right to join the Armed Forces of Ukraine for military service under a contract of a voluntary basis to be included in the Territorial Defence Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

"A separate subdivision is being formed of foreigners entitled the International Legion for the Territorial Defence of Ukraine. There is no greater contribution [which] you can make for the sake of peace. For enrolment and details please contact the Defence Attaché of the Embassy of Ukraine in your country,'' the embassy wrote.

Dej, 39, a volunteer ranger from Narathiwat, said he has followed the news about the Russia-Ukraine conflict and felt upset over Russia's invasion, which he described as like an adult bullying a small child, prompting him to want to volunteer to fight with Ukraine against Russia.

"I hate to see strong people harassing weak ones. I am ready to quit as a volunteer ranger and fly to Ukraine if I am recruited to join the fight,'' he said.

He said he was trained in using weapons, though he still has to find money for travel expenses and air tickets.

Tack, 39, from Phetchabun province, said that he is ready to sign up to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia, though he did not want the conflict to escalate into another world war.

Golf, 31, a former army conscript, said he arrived at the Ukrainian embassy on Witthayu Road to inquire about recruitment.

He passed on the information to his friends who have now formed a group to stand by Ukraine.

About 20 Thais on Thursday turned up at the Ukrainian embassy to seek information about the recruitment process, and they formed a Line group named "volunteer soldiers to Ukraine'' to share information.

One problem, however, is that many of those interested lack basic weapons training, while some are former conscripts but have no experience in actual battle, sources said.

According to a notice posted outside the embassy, applicants are required to submit documents, including proof of military training, via email to the embassy's second secretary.

The notice also said volunteers must pay for their own travel expenses and other costs.

The embassy dismissed as baseless information shared on social media that volunteers will be granted Ukrainian citizenship and other rewards after the conflict.

A Thai man who asked not to be named said he heard about the recruitment on social media and went to the embassy, only to be told he had to apply via email.

Tanee Sangrat, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Thursday that while the ministry is concerned about the safety of Thais wanting to fight in Ukraine, its priority is evacuating Thais out of Ukraine.

"We don't want Thais to put their lives at risk,'' Mr Tanee said.

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