FULL DISCLOSURE: Sourced from Russian State-Controlled Media
SputnikNews: Thousands of foreign nationals poured into Ukraine to ‘fight the Russians’ in late February and early March after Kiev announced the formation of an ‘international legion’. Last week, the Russian military estimated that about 6,600 foreign “mercenaries and terrorists” remain active in Ukraine and that their ranks are dwindling.
— tobimono2 (@tobimono2) April 1, 2022
Henry Hoeft, the 28-year-old US Army veteran who garnered significant media attention following the release of a viral video detailing his escape from Ukraine after being left without weapons and threatened with execution, has provided new information on his experiences, including possible war crimes carried out by Ukrainian forces and the so-called Georgian Legion, the group of fighters he joined.
Speaking to The Grayzone and providing access to a recent interview he did with British media, Hoeft said he joined the infamous Georgian Legion instead of the better-known Ukrainian Foreign Legion because the latter required a contract.
Hoeft recalled witnessing how two apparent civilians attempting to pass through a Ukrainian checkpoint, only to be “black bagged,” taken to a building to have their throats cut. “We don’t even know if they were actually spies or just people who ran through a checkpoint,” he said.
The Ohio native also recalled an encounter with a bearded man speaking Arabic among the Georgian Legion’s ranks, suspecting that he was a Middle Eastern jihadist fighter. “Not that it’s wrong, not that it’s bad, I had a guy in a prayer cap and a big f***ing beard run up to me…I’m in f***ing Ukraine, why am I hearing Arabic?” he asked.
Hoeft, who has faced attacks from the Ukrainian government painting him as a Russian stooge, and story after-sarcastically-titled story from Rolling Stone, the Daily Mail and New York Magazine painting him as a coward, stood by sentiments he expressed in his viral video, including about the danger of being shot in the back by your own side.
“There’s no such thing as glory in death. You’re going to die in a trench and you’re going to get left there and it’s gross and it’s bad,” Hoeft said.
He also repeated his point from his viral rant about the lack of supplies, saying three days after he arrived, the Legion “sent a group of volunteers to Kiev with nothing. No plates, no weapon, no kit. They told them that they would get weapons once they got there.” Later, he said, “one guy was like, ‘Oh, I got a weapon, but I only got ten rounds of ammunition.’ We heard a story of one guy getting a Glock [a handgun] and being sent to go patrol an airport.”
The volunteer said he and his friends decided that they would not go to Kiev unless they were armed first. “You can be ambushed on your way to Kiev [and] that’s it,” he said.
Hoeft speculated on why the foreign volunteers were not properly equipped, saying most of the hundreds of millions of dollars in Western equipment that has been sent to Kiev probably ended up in the hands of the Ukrainian army. “They want to keep the casualties of their people to a minimum. So if you have a bunch of foreigners that come to volunteer, send them first.”
The American also recalled an incident of a Ukrainian soldier informing him and his comrades that the Georgians were upset at the group’s refusal to go to Kiev without proper weapons, and warning that the Legion’s fighters were “threatening to shoot you in the back.” He said he and his group ultimately decided to leave Ukraine and cross back into Poland after being told that the legion planned to have them executed and marked down as combat casualties.
On their way back, Hoeft’s group met British fighters who said volunteers in combat gear were being sent back from the border area after having their passports confiscated.
Hoeft gave a warning to any Americans, including combat veterans from conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan, to stay home, saying the situation in Ukraine was unlike anything the US has seen since Vietnam, and possibly worse.
“The last time maybe we got into something this bad could have been Vietnam, but we even had air support then. You don’t have air support [in Ukraine], you don’t have the superiority of the artillery. You know, Russia’s the one with the rockets, they’re the ones with the cruise missiles, they’re the ones with the jets flying overhead, drones, all that. And I just think everyone needs to carefully think about every possible scenario,” the vet stressed.
Russian airstrikes against training camps hosting volunteers and the testimony of people like Hoeft and other Westerners have reportedly led to a thinning out of the numbers of foreigners seeking to ‘fight Russia’ in Ukraine.
Last week, Russian General Staff Main Operational Directorate chief Sergei Rudskoy said in a briefing that Russia had picked up on the presence of 6,595 foreign “mercenaries and terrorists” from 62 countries operating in Ukraine. Pointing to their dwindling numbers, particularly after the missile strike on the Yavoriv training base on 13 March, Rudskoy warned that the rules of warfare do not apply to mercenaries.