Not only Ukrainians are fighting the Russians. Many Russians have also decided to fight against their country. Igor Volobuyev (50) is one of them: “On February 24, any compromise became impossible. Because I couldn’t be a part of this crime.”
“The moment the war broke out, I knew immediately that I wanted to help Ukraine,” Russian Igor Volobuyev told the British newspaper The Guardian. For weeks, he searched for a way to obtain Ukrainian documents that would allow him to sign up for military service in Ukraine. A chance to fight against Russia, the country where he spent most of his adult life.
“I initially wanted to join the territorial defence units in the Sumi region, where I grew up. I approached many officials at the time, but legally there was no opportunity for me to fight against the Russians.”
And then he was offered the opportunity to join the Legion of “Freedom for Russia”, a special military unit that is part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and made up entirely of Russian citizens. Volobuyev grabbed that opportunity with both hands.
“I’m really happy that I achieved that goal. Now I have to go to military training so that I can fight,” says the 50-year-old who has Ukrainian roots but has a Russian passport, spent most of his life in Moscow and was a vice president at Gazprombank, Russia’s second-largest bank, which is also owned by the Russian energy company Gazprom. “I have compromised with myself for a long time. But on February 24, any talk of compromise became impossible. I couldn’t be a part of these crimes,” he says.
Not much is known about the legion of Russians that Volobuyev is a part of. The news that the legion was being formed was shared on the social media platform Telegram in early March. In early April, they held a press conference in Kyiv. Volobuyev declined to say how many they are in the legion and where it has already fought but did indicate that the legion fights regularly.
He emphasized that they are not “a group of mercenaries” either, but that they are part of the Ukrainian armed forces. If captured, they should therefore be treated under international humanitarian law.