US Navy veteran and former MSNBC defence analyst Malcolm Nance has confirmed that he is fighting in Ukraine as part of the country’s international legion against the Russian invasion.
Nance, in an interview with host Joy Reid, said he had been fighting against Russia in the country for about a month. He spoke by video link from an undisclosed location in Ukraine, wearing full camouflage, a flak jacket, and holding an assault rifle.
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“We are here for one purpose and one purpose only and that is to protect the innocent people of Ukraine from this Russian aggression,” Nance told Reid on Monday night, referring to the International Legion of Territorial Defence of Ukraine, a military force created in the wake of the Russian invasion of the country that Ukrainian officials say includes 20,000 volunteers from 52 countries.
“The more I saw of the war going on, the more I thought, I’m done talking, It’s time to take action,” said Nance, executive director of the Terror Asymmetrics Project think-tank who had been a regular analyst on MSNBC. The network later confirmed to the Daily Beast that they no longer employ Nance.
During the interview, the former US Navy officer described the ongoing fighting, which recently saw Russian troops withdraw from Kyiv and the more western reaches of Ukraine to focus on the south and the eastern Donbas region, as “essentially a war of extermination”.
“This is an existential war, and Russia has brought it to these people and they are mass-murdering civilians,” he said. “And there are people here like me who are here to do something about it.”
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) April 19, 2022
The bodies of hundreds of civilians, including several mass graves, have been discovered in recent weeks as Russian troops repositioned for the offensive in the east, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said began in full on Tuesday. The alleged atrocities have sparked international condemnation and calls for a war crimes investigation into Russia’s actions.
Moscow has also attempted to use captured foreign nationals fighting for Ukraine as bargaining chips. In a video aired by Russian state TV on Monday, captured British nationals Shaun Pinner, 48, and Aiden Aslin, 28, appealed to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to negotiate their release in exchange for Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Moscow politician who was detained in Ukraine last week.
It remained unclear if Pinner and Aslin, who had both joined the Ukrainian marines years before the Russian invasion, were speaking of their own volition in the footage.
In the interview on Monday, Nance said he did not think that international fighters in the foreign legion were being particularly targeted by Russians in Ukraine.
He said “the war that’s being waged here is being waged against everybody…They’re are not going around hunting for American flag patches or to see who’s Black, who’s Asian, who’s Latino.”
“The international legion is a multinational force, there are men and women, there are thousands here who are here to protect this country,” he added. “So I decided to come here to assist them with the skills I have myself.”