Over 66,000 Ukrainian men have returned from abroad to fight, says defence minister

‘Ukrainians, we are invincible,’ Oleksii Reznikov says as he announces figures

Zoe Tidman
Monday 07 March 2022 14:18 GMT
People in Kherson, southern Ukraine, protest against Russia

More than 66,200 men have returned to Ukraine from abroad to join the fight against the Russian invasion, the country’s defence minister has said.

The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky had urged citizens to defend the country after Russia launched an all-out attack last week.

Men of military age have been barred from leaving Ukraine due to the war, which is estimated to have killed hundreds of civilians in its first 10 days.

While more than one million have fled to escape the conflict, tens of thousands of Ukrainians are said to have poured across the border into the warzone to fight.

“66,224. That's how many men returned from abroad at this moment to defend their country from the horde,” Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s defence minister, tweeted on Saturday.

“These are 12 more combat and motivated brigades! Ukrainians, we are invincible.”

It comes as Russian forces pressed on with their attack in recent days, bombarding cities with missiles and engaging in heavy fighting across the country.

Other Ukrainians are supporting the war effort by making and organising supplies to send to troops fighting the invasion.

Thousands of foreigners have also volunteered to fight for the country, according to Mr Zelensky, who appealed for more to follow in their footsteps.

This map shows the extent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

“Anyone who wants to join the defence of Ukraine, Europe and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals,” Mr Zelensky said on Sunday - the fourth day of the war.

The UK foreign secretary, Liz Truss, said she would “absolutely” support British nationals who decided to do this - although the defence secretary urged against this.

Russia launched their invasion by land, sea and air on 24 February after the threat had loomed for weeks.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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