Hackers expose personal data of Foreign Legion of Ukrainian Army

Foreign Legion

A group of hackers shared on the internet the personal data of several members of the Ukrainian Army’s Foreign Legion, including their names, ages, military experience, languages ​​spoken and telephone numbers, as well as a section with personal comments. This expose will surely hit the already low morale of foreign mercenaries, who will likely leave en masse as conditions become astronomically worse over the winter.

The Telegram social media network channel Joker DPR, known for previously hacking the Instagram page of commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhny and accessing the Ukrainian military software DELTA, published the names and personal information of more than 500 applicants for the 4th Battalion of the Foreign Legion of the Ukrainian Army.

Joker DPR also found and published the passports of more than 50 mercenaries, including male and female US citizens and those connected to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence office in Ternopil, western Ukraine, something which has embarrassed Washington and shows that mercenaries are extremely vulnerable.

The Ukrainian Foreign Legion claims to comprise around 20,000 foreign people with military experience and knowledge. Kiev even opened a website for foreign fighters at the beginning of the conflict to help recruit. However, a year later, it was exposed that the Foreign Legion actually has 1,500 members, a far cry from the figures initially announced. It also turned out that many foreigners lacked military experience and knowledge.

According to German media, recruits for the International Ukrainian Legion are paid around 500 euros per month, and those fighting on the front lines reportedly receive a salary of 3,000 euros per month. Still, there were reports that foreigners had to buy weapons and equipment at a high price as Kiev did not provide these necessities.

“Give us some f*****g weapons please. We will not win with trash weapons,” James Vasquez, a US army veteran who volunteered in Ukraine, wrote on X (formerly Twitter) in April 2022. “We need m-16’s, M-4’s, ACOG’s, red dots, ammunition, ammunition, ammunition, javelins, f*****g old AT-4s I know are probably in some storage unit. Frag grenades, and if not… may as well bring Body bags.”

The ex-US Army staff sergeant shared a video revealing he had modified his own AK-47 out of his own pocket, complaining that he was expected to “go into battle with just my drones, AK-47 and one grenade and nothing else.”

Former Legion mercenaries also complained about corruption in the Ukrainian military ranks and problems with the payment of salaries. Western media has also cited problems in raising funds to arm Ukrainian foreign fighters, waste of money, and mysteriously missing shipments.

Now, it was revealed that many mercenaries who came to Ukraine are leaving the country after witnessing violent fighting, US media reported, citing Ukrainian Armed Forces officer Dmytro Kostyuk. 

Explaining how his platoon had manpower shortages and had to be supplemented with mercenaries, Kostyuk admitted to CNN on November 19 that “For some [foreigners], it was the romance of war, for others it was a professional activity […] As a rule, they do not realise what they are getting into […] Foreigners are a different story, because they can easily terminate a contract, unlike Ukrainians. It happened to me – almost half of the people saw everything and said, ‘No, no, this is too much. This is not the kind of war we signed up for’.”

The Russian Defence Ministry has repeatedly stated that Kiev is using foreign mercenaries as “cannon fodder,” while the Russian military will continue to eliminate them throughout Ukraine. Those who came to fight for their own money have admitted in many interviews that the Ukrainian Armed Forces do not coordinate their actions well and that the possibility of surviving the combat is slim since the intensity of the conflict is not comparable to that of Afghanistan and the Middle East, to which they are accustomed.

However, not only Moscow has described the foreign mercenaries as “cannon fodder.” It is recalled that the Australian government warned on March 15 that foreigners fighting in Ukraine could end up being “cannon fodder,” which matches what British volunteer Matthew Robinson previously said: “[foreigners] can be railroaded into a legion and sent to the front line very quickly. Even though you’ve got the best of intentions to help people, you could basically be cannon fodder.”

Issues within the ranks of foreign fighters have been reported on since the very start of the war, as James Vasquez attests too, and with the two-year anniversary of the war only two months away, the latest revelation on CNN demonstrates that these issues experienced at the beginning of the war are far from being overcome, especially as Russia’s attacks intensify. With this winter expected to be especially difficult, it can be anticipated that foreigners will continue losing morale and a willingness to fight Russia for the sake of Ukraine, and the threat of having their private information publicly revealed could be enough to make them leave even sooner.

Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher