Some Thai Citizens Express Interest in Bearing Arms for Ukraine’s Defense

Nontarat Phaicharoen
2022.03.02
Bangkok
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Some Thai Citizens Express Interest in Bearing Arms for Ukraine’s Defense Sa-nguan Monlakhon, a retired soldier formerly stationed in the Thai Deep South, stands in line at the All Seasons Building, which houses the Ukrainian Embassy, in Bangkok, March 2, 2022.
[Nontarat Phaicharoen/BenarNews]

Sa-nguan Monlakhon, a former Thai soldier, despises bullies.

That is why he wants to sign up to join the international brigade of Ukraine’s military, after the country’s president said he would welcome citizens from across the globe to join the Ukrainian people’s armed resistance against invading Russian forces.

“I want to join the force because of my democratic ideology. I hate bullying,” the 44-year-old ex- soldier who was formerly stationed in Thailand’s troubled far-southern border region, told BenarNews, referring in this case to Russia as the bully.

“I have six years of experience fighting the [separatist] insurgency in the Deep South as a ranger – lots of experience. …To take over the former territory of the USSR is a declaration of war that no one agrees with.”

Sa-nguan is among scores of Thai citizens who have phoned the Ukrainian Embassy in Bangkok, including around 40 who have shown up there to express interest in volunteering to join the former Soviet republic’s armed resistance against the invasion, according to an embassy official.

Sa-nguan, a native of Nong Bualampoo province in northeastern Thailand, quit his combat job 10 years ago because he had young children and his wife was worried for his safety.

“Now I’m single again. So I came here to apply for a position,” he said, referring to standing in line outside the Ukrainian embassy to sign up to fight alongside the Ukrainian army.

However, the Thai government is perturbed by this kind of show of solidarity with Ukraine because it is concerned about its own citizens’ safety.

“There is a lot of concern if there will be Thai people traveling to fight in Ukraine. [We are] afraid they will be harmed, [in] which [case] we have to take care of them,” Tanee Sangrat, spokesman for the Thai foreign ministry, told BenarNews.

Hundreds of Thai citizens have also sent the embassy emails to apply to sign up for the international section of Ukraine’s territorial armed forces, according to a Facebook group created about the endeavor.    

This was after the Ukrainian Embassy here posted a notice on its premises appealing to foreign volunteers to enlist in the international legion of the territorial defense force.

Before it was taken down, the sign said “all volunteers with military experience who want to join the defense of Ukraine, Europe and world can come fight side by side with the Ukrainians ….”

On Feb. 27, three days after Russia launched the invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that any world citizen who wanted to join the fight against “an unjustified criminal and cynical intrusion” was welcome in Ukraine, according to a statement from the Ukraine Crisis Media Center that cited the country’s Ministry of Defense.

A Thai official working at the Ukrainian Embassy in Thailand said there were many inquiries about the embassy notice.

“As many as a hundred called in about it Wednesday,” the official at the embassy told BenarNews on the condition of anonymity as she was concerned for her safety.  

The embassy source said there were no details on how applicants should go about arranging their trip to Ukraine.

“The Embassy does not know the details about qualification, compensation, or schedule because … no detailed directions are available yet,” she said.

“Initially, we asked applicants to submit a passport copy and their CV [curriculum vitae]. If they could eventually go, they would have to pay about U.S. $1,000 for the journey.”

Not everyone wants to fight, though, because participating in a war is a dangerous proposition, and, some believe, morally wrong.

For instance, in Ukraine, the Russian attack has killed more than 2,000 civilians and destroyed hospitals, kindergartens and homes, according to the country’s emergency service, news agencies reported. Among the casualties were 21 dead children and 55 wounded ones, according to Ukraine’s ombudswoman, Reuters reported.

On the other side, Moscow says nearly 500 Russian troops have been killed during the invasion of Ukraine, Agence France-Presse reported.

A Thai man who wished only to be identified as M. for security reasons, said he was applying to serve in Ukraine, but in a humanitarian capacity. He said he had had taken a few military training courses but had never enlisted and would never take up arms.

“I feel pity of the people there. Ukrainian people have to pay for the price of the governments,” M. told BenarNews.

“They don’t deserve this. I want to help them with humanitarian work.”

He acknowledged, though, that his family is worried about his plan and does not want him to take risks.

“If I make it [through the crisis] I will take it as a good change in my life,” he said.

“If not, I take the risk of becoming a prisoner of war.”

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