TESTIMONY. ‘I had no choice’: Ukrainian leaves French Foreign Legion to fight for his country



Sergei points to the crest of the French Foreign Legion that he added to his uniform: “This crest gives me strength. Ukrainians who see this patch are proud to have me on their team.

Of Ukrainian origin, but a member of a French army commando in Toulon a few weeks ago, the 28-year-old man has just joined the reserve fighters of the Ukrainian territorial defense, in Irpin, in the suburbs of the capital Kyiv.

Sergei spent four years in the French Foreign Legion before being fired last December. In Ukraine, he is now applying the teachings of the French army: “You have to be calm, you have to think carefully. You don’t have to go anywhere. You have to work together and stay with your team“, he enumerates.

On the day of the Russian invasion of his country, February 24, he initially did not want to believe that three rockets hit his village in the west of the country. The next day, he takes the road to Ukraine in the direction of Irpin, the fairly affluent suburb of kyiv.

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Today he is alone with his unit, without heavy armament because the Ukrainian regular army holds positions closer to kyiv to protect the capital. For its part, the Russian army advances and settles. The young man admits to being afraid.

“When I arrived, a plane started bombing fifteen meters from me. My car windows shattered.”

Sergei recounts especially with modesty having seen civilians killed on the roads or in pits, he who had to protect them. In Irpin, he also found another legionnaire who served with him in the French army, on Operation Barkhane in Mali. However, some former comrades do not understand his choice. “They thought I was going to stay with France. But I was born here, I have no choice“, he assumes.



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