- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Ukrainian military finally has American boots on the ground in its fight against pro-Russian separatists. Unfortunately for the Ukrainians, it’s just one man. “Franko” is an American citizen of Ukrainian decent who joined the Donbas volunteer battalion and has fought in the region since April.

“I’m of Ukrainian decent, and because of my parent’s background, I’m entitled to immediate Ukrainian citizenship. So before I joined the battalion, I took on Ukrainian citizenship so I’d fight as a Ukrainian,” Franko told Vice News for its YouTube series “Russian Roulette” on Wednesday. The news website interviewed him in Popasna, Ukraine. He did not provide his real name.

When asked by Vice News if he knew of any other Americans who were fighting in Ukraine he said “I’m the only guy that I’ve met. I’m in a six-man squad. I’m just a private. I insisted on being a private. I carry a weapon. I do my part. I go everywhere the unit goes.”

SEE ALSO: Obama, Putin speak about Ukraine, peace deal

Franko told the news website that he believes there are between 20,000 to 25,000 soldiers (volunteers and professional troops) in the region, but that up to 60,000 may be necessary to wipe out the pro-Russian separatists.

“We’re at war. You can’t have partial mobilization. Let’s have full mobilization. Let’s get it over with. That means taking every military resource you have and bringing it to bear on the field of battle,” Franko told Vice News. “I think that there is this feeling especially among the politicians — this political elite — that they think life will continue going on as it has for the past 20 years. I personally think … that will not happen,” he added.

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