Deutsche Welle: “A dream come true – I am now in the Freedom of Russia Legion,” said Igor Volobuev, once a vice-president at Russia’s state-owned Gazprombank. The Legion’s Telegram channel has details of quite a few Russians who have defected to Ukraine and even revealed their names.
The Freedom of Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps are two groups comprising mainly Russians but who are fighting on Ukraine’s side.
yesterday, fighters from these units shelled the Russian region of Belgorod in what Andriy Yuzov from Ukraine’s Intelligence Directorate told the Suspilne public broadcaster was an “operation to liberate these territories from the so-called Putin regime.”
Russian-only unitsThere has been awareness of the Freedom of Russia Legion since at least the beginning of April 2022. It was apparently formed by captured Russian soldiers who switched over to the Ukrainian side, but also of volunteers with Russian passports.
It is made up of about 500 men, according to Ilya Ponomarev, a former member of the Russian State Duma who represents the unit. He was the only Russian lawmaker to vote against the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and went into exile in 2016.The Russian Volunteer Corps has existed since August 2022 but the number of men is not known. However, a fighter who goes by the name “Cardinal,” whose military ID was presented to DW, said it had the same tasks as a company — which can have 30 to 150 men.
One of the co-founders, Denis Kapustin, a businessman who is known as being part of Russia’s far-right movement and uses the pseudonym Denis Nikitin, said late last year that the Russian Volunteer Corps had been working with the Ukrainian army since the fall.