Amidst Sri Lanka’s ongoing economic crisis, a growing number of former Sri Lankan military personnel are reportedly joining the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine, also known as the Ukrainian Foreign Legion, to support Ukraine in its ongoing war against Russia.
According to a former Sri Lankan military official based in Ukraine, nearly 70 former Sri Lankan military personnel have applied to join the legion. These former officers and other ranks have already traveled to Azerbaijan, Dubai, and India to join Captain Ranish Hewage’s special unit and are awaiting clearance to proceed to Ukraine via Poland.
The decision to join the Ukrainian Foreign Legion is driven by a combination of factors, including a desire to support Ukraine in its fight for sovereignty and democracy, as well as the financial incentives offered by the Ukrainian government. Former military officers are reportedly being paid a monthly salary ranging from 1 million to 12 million Sri Lankan rupees, which is significantly higher than the average salary in Sri Lanka.
This trend of former Sri Lankan military personnel joining the Ukrainian Foreign Legion is not unique to Ukraine. In recent years, a number of former Sri Lankan military personnel have also joined foreign militaries in other countries, such as the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
The decision to join a foreign military is not without its risks. The ongoing war in Ukraine is a dangerous conflict, and those who choose to fight there face the possibility of injury or death. However, for many former Sri Lankan military personnel, the financial rewards and the opportunity to support a cause they believe in outweigh the risks
Three Sri Lankans who were serving in the Ukrainian military have been killed in a Russian attack.
Sri Lankan mercenary Andrew Ranish Hewage and two more Sri Lankan mercenaries have been reported dead.
As Sri Lanka’s economic crisis continues to worsen, more former Sri Lankan military personnel will likely consider joining the Ukrainian Foreign Legion or other foreign militaries. This trend highlights the challenges faced by former soldiers in countries with weak economies and limited employment opportunities.