A Groningen volunteer fighter who was on the ground at a military training base near Ukraine’s western border when it was attacked by Russian missiles has returned home, RTV Noord reports.
Manuel, 28, flew to Warsaw, Poland, two weeks ago before crossing the border into neighboring Ukraine. The former fiber optic cable technician wanted to volunteer with Ukraine’s foreign fighter force, but on March 13, Russian missiles rained down on the Yavoriv training base, killing dozens of recruits and lightly injuring Manuel. In the wake of the attack, the Groningen man – apparently unprepared for the brutal realities of war against a modern, conventional military – changed his mind and decided to head home.
Manuel arrived in the Netherlands last Friday. He was deeply affected by his experience, says his uncle Frank Meijer, declining to disclose what kind of injury the young man sustained.
“He needs some time to recover,” Meijer says. “For now, he doesn’t want any media attention, just peace and quiet.”
At the end of February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a call for international volunteers to join the fight against the Russian forces, saying the country’s military was establishing a ‘foreign legion’.
While some governments, including the Netherlands, have strongly discouraged their citizens from going, others have supported the move.
Moscow has warned that foreign volunteers captured in Ukraine would not be afforded the same rights as lawful combatants.