Recent reports of threats of prison time for eight Spanish anti-fascists detained for providing humanitarian and medical assistance to the residents of Donbas have led to serious questions about what convictions could drive Western volunteers fighting for Donbas to decide to travel to a deadly war zone.
Asked about the Spanish government's claims that the volunteers had violated Spain's policy of neutrality in the conflict, a volunteer named Arroyo argued that "there is no neutrality on the part of Spain in this conflict…Spain has supplied military equipment to Kiev and supports the current government. We know that there are Spanish mercenaries in the ranks of the Ukrainian army." The Spaniards could face from 4 to 15 years if convicted of the charges leveled against them, which range from weapons possession, to abetting murder, to violating the interests of the Spanish state.
Volunteers Range From Left to Right
Guillaume told Gazeta.ru that in his estimate, there are about 10-15 Frenchmen assisting Donbas militia at any one time, noting that "in my unit there were eight of them." The volunteer added that "not all French that come are here to fight. Some of them bring humanitarian assistance; others are doctors."
Guillaume, who stands against the values of social liberalism, told Lenta.ru that he was raised by his family to "consider it absolutely normal to fight for my values and ideals." The Frenchman added that he believes that France has been governed by 'liberal totalitarianism' since the 1960s, and that the country is reaching a point where civil tensions may eventually spill into civil war: "the situation in our country is more explosive than ever. It is full of conflicts: ethnic, inter-cultural, inter-religious, social. Added to this is social stratification, unemployment, mass immigration. Too many problems for one country, and if things go on like this, we too may slide into civil war."
Guillaume revealed that over the course of his time in Donbas, he has spent "hundreds and hundreds of Euros," even having to pay for his uniform. "And after that they call us mercenaries!," he exclaimed.
The Frenchman noted that like the Spanish volunteers, "upon returning home, each of us will face this problem." He noted that "if the Spanish volunteers end up in jail, it will set a precedent, and it will become dangerous for me to return to France."
Regarding the Ukrainian soldiers, Guillaume noted that he does "not feel any hate toward the guys from Ukraine. Like us, they are just doing their job. But when you are at war, you must choose who you are for. Some of my comrades were killed by the Ukrainian army. This is war."
An unnamed Italian volunteer whose appeal was recently put up on YouTube explained his decision to join the Donbas militia by noting that: "I am for the self-determination of people. If the people vote that they want to be independent from another nation…this is what I call democracy."
Finally, a US DNR volunteer nicknamed 'Texas' offered his own reasons for volunteering to fight, noting: "Donbas did not want to be controlled by foreign-backed Nazis. I respected that decision; I thought they needed some help, so I came here to help them." Ashamed of his country's purported backing of the Kiev government, Texas noted that he "felt a responsibility to come here to show the people of Donbas and the world that not everyone in the United States" supports US policy and the Kiev government.