Tamil Nadu student in Ukraine joins voluntary military force to fight Russia
Sainikhesh Ravichandran, a 21-year-old from Coimbatore, has joined a paramilitary unit of volunteers in Ukraine
India is among the countries from which volunteers have joined the International Legion, Ukraine's volunteer military force, and are currently engaged in combat, according to a Ukrainian media report on Tuesday.
Three days after Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24, the government of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for foreign volunteers to join the International Legion in view of the need for forces to counter the offensive. Ukraine's defence ministry said on February 28 that it had received "several thousand" applications from foreign nationals.
"First foreigners have already joined International Legion, Ukraine's volunteer military force, and are fighting outside of Kyiv," The Kyiv Independent tweeted, citing Ukrainian Ground Forces.
Media reports claimed that Sainikhesh Ravichandran, a 21-year-old from Coimbatore, has joined a paramilitary unit of volunteers in Ukraine. He had enrolled for a course in aerospace engineering at Kharkiv Aviation Institute, a leading aerospace university located in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, which has been the target of intense Russian shelling in recent days.
However, there have been numerous reports of American and British citizens volunteering to fight with the Ukrainian armed forces.
There was no immediate response on the reports from Indian officials.
Under Indian laws, it is an offence for a citizen to participate in fighting in a foreign country. After a Shia group attempted to send registered volunteers to protect shrines in Iraq from the Islamic State, the Union home ministry said in an affidavit filed in the Delhi high court in 2015 that Indian citizens cannot be allowed to travel to a foreign country with the declared objective of taking part in any conflict. Any attempt to mobilise volunteers to participate in a foreign conflict would be an absolute contravention of the law and stated policy of the country, the affidavit said.
Zelenskyy said Ukraine expects up to 16,000 foreign volunteers to join the International Legion. Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba told a media briefing in Kyiv on Sunday that experienced veterans and volunteers from 52 countries had applied to join the legion. The total number of applications is approaching 20,000, he said.
On March 5, the Ukrainian government launched a dedicated website with guidelines for potential legionnaires to make it easier for foreign nationals to join the legion.