Joshua Holzer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
After Russia launched its large-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, many countries quickly responded by imposing sanctions on Russia and by sending weapons to help Ukraine defend itself.
Nonetheless, many non-Ukrainians want to fight for Ukraine for a variety of reasons, whether ideological, personal or political.
To take advantage of that support, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has set up the International Legion of Defense of Ukraine for those who wish to volunteer – including U.S. citizens. While this particular effort may be new, the concept of a foreign legion – a military force comprised of volunteers from foreign countries – is more than 190 years old.
The “Légion étrangère,” or French Foreign Legion, is perhaps the world’s most famous – and infamous – foreign legion.