21:10 GMT +316 October 2018
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    Recruits sworn in for Azov Battalion in Kiev

    Ukrainian Rada Considers Legalizing Use of Mercenaries

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    Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada moved to consider a law legalizing the use of mercenaries and recruiting them to take part in foreign conflicts.

    Ukraine's legislature has voted to consider a law which would effectively legalize the use of mercenaries and their recruitment on Friday.

    The law alters Ukraine's law by allowing the recruitment of mercenaries to overthrow foreign governments and violate foreign states' territorial integrity. It also changes the definition of mercenaries to people who are not personnel of the armed forces taking part in a conflict.

    "Right now, the practice of using foreigners on the side of Ukraine in battle contradicts lawful norms," the explanatory note to the law states.

    The explanatory note claims that the law would allow formations such as the French Foreign Legion by allowing the Ukrainian military to hire foreigners and decriminalizing the handling of weapons and explosives by foreigners.

    The new law does not require foreigners to make an oath of allegiance to Ukraine. The clause allows private military companies such as Academi (formerly Blackwater) to legally take part in the conflict as long as they are technically considered a part of the Ukrainian armed forces.

    Ukraine has been accused of using foreign fighters in the Donbass conflict, particularly in the Azov battalion known for the "social-nationalist" views of its leadership and self-identified neo-Nazi views of its members.

    Azov has been integrated into the Ukrainian National Guard since November 10, 2014, so the law is likely to legalize the foreigners recruited to fight in the battalion.

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    Tags:
    law, mercenaries, Academi, Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine
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