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"There is no need to be afraid": fighters of the Siberian Battalion told why they came to the defense of Ukraine and named their main goal

Volunteers undergo rigorous vetting to ensure that no Russian agents have joined the battalion

Soldiers of the Siberian Battalion, which consists mainly of representatives of Russian ethnic minorities from across the Urals, said they stood up to defend Ukraine to try to "wash away the blood of Bucha." They see victory in Ukraine as an opportunity to overthrow the Putin regime and gain independence from Russia for their people.

The soldiers told The Times about this in an interview. The volunteers say they want to gain valuable experience in the war in Ukraine to further liberate their homeland.

The men, who were traveling to European countries from Russia via difficult routes, were assisted by the Civil Council, a Russian opposition movement that recruits volunteers for the Ukrainian armed forces. The movement was created last year by opposition figures in exile. Its goal is to try to "wash away the blood of Bucha," referring to the town in Kyiv Oblast where Russian soldiers ruthlessly killed civilians last year.

Currently, the Siberian battalion has not hundreds, but only dozens of fighters. However, their number will increase, some of them are already on the front line in eastern Ukraine.

"The problem is not that Russians do not want to join us. The problem is that Ukraine cannot process the large number of applications it receives. We have to do a lot of checks to make sure that no Russian agents have infiltrated the battalion. We also need to make sure that they meet the requirements of the Ukrainian armed forces, of course," said the battalion's Ukrainian spokesman.

Soldiers in the battalion say they have faced discrimination and racism in Moscow, where Russian citizens of Asian appearance have difficulty renting apartments and are often harassed by police. At the same time, the Kremlin has mobilized a disproportionate number of soldiers from Siberia in an effort to minimize casualties and dissent among residents of its largest and richest cities.

"Russia considers me a second-class citizen," says one of the soldiers.

That is why, according to the volunteers, they came to Ukraine to help our country defeat the occupiers and gain experience to fight for the liberation of their homeland.

One of the battalion's soldiers, Gennadiy, said he was not worried about the prospect of fighting against other Buryats on the battlefield in Ukraine.

"For me, they are enemies. My advice to them is to run away or surrender," the volunteer said.

Gennady is a native of Buryatia, a poor Siberian region 3,500 miles east of Moscow.

"I could not stand by while such crimes were being committed against Ukraine and its people. I left Russia on my 29th birthday and will return home only to a free Buryatia," the fighter said.

Earlier, the soldiers of the Siberian Battalion of the Armed Forces of Ukraine responded to the scandalous statements of former MP Iryna Farion about Ukrainian servicemen who speak Russian. They emphasized that they respect the Ukrainian people and their language. The volunteers also noted that all orders and commands are given exclusively in Ukrainian.

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