March 11, 2022, Lviv, Lviv, Ukraine: Colonel Anton, a military spokesman, discusses the Ukraine s legion of foreign fighters in Lviv, Ukraine on March 11, 2022. Ukraine created legion to combat Russia after Russia invaded on Feb. 24. Lviv Ukraine - ZUMAc244 20220311_zip_c244_013 Copyright: xDanielxCardex

Volunteer fighters in Ukraine have complained about abuses in the International Legion. “We were literally left behind and they didn’t want to evacuate us,” an American soldier told the online media Kyiv Independent. His comrade died during the mission near the southern city of Mykolaiv, one of the hotspots of the war. Three others were seriously injured.

Shortly after escaping the shelling, another group from the same unit received orders to take the same position. The soldier and other legionnaires describe the missions to which they are sent unprepared as a suicide mission.

Reports of foreigners leaving the International Legion due to poor organization, lack of equipment and permanent contracts are not new. You’ve made headlines before.

But what “Kyiv Independent” uncovered in an extensive research shows a number of serious abuses in one wing of the international volunteer troop. According to the report, these are not only tolerated by its leadership, it is even involved itself, as can be seen from numerous interviews with legionnaires and a 78-page report. It involves theft of weapons and goods, solicitation to loot, sexual harassment, assault and being sent on suicidal missions.

According to the Ukrainian medium’s research, a group of men are at the center of the allegations: Major Vadym Popyk, who heads the unit’s wing, Major Taras Vashuk, an intelligence officer, Vashuk’s uncle, also an intelligence officer, and 60-year-old Sasha Kuchynsky.

The complaints of the legionnaires are directed primarily against Kuchynsky, whom they describe as a heavy drinker who abuses and exploits his subordinates.

One soldier reported that Kuchynsky demanded a share of the equipment he, the soldier, had bought from the Legion for his comrades. When he refused to release them, Kutschynski pointed a gun at him.

“And then Sasha (Kuchynsky, editor’s note) just started screaming, yelling,” the man recalled. “He said, ‘I know there’s stuff here. Give me your things’.”

His descriptions are confirmed by other soldiers who have had similar experiences. Kuchynsky took away some of the ammunition they received from volunteers and donors. It is suspected that he sells them and enriches himself from them.

An order that the volunteer fighters received from him in early June was similarly dubious: They were to drive from their base to a local shopping center in the frontline town of Lysychansk in the Luhansk region and take goods from the shops with them. Kuchynsky would have ordered them to take anything they liked: shoes, women’s clothing, jewelry, watches and electronics.

“The locals saw us loading the furniture, which made me very uncomfortable. It felt like we were robbing her. That’s not why I came to Ukraine,” says a soldier from Colombia.

There was no objection or even resistance. Many of the legionnaires obeyed because they come from a professional military background where they do not question the orders of their superiors.

And if someone has complained, this has so far remained without consequences. Female paramedics who were harassed in their unit by Kuchynsky with sexually suggestive expressions drew attention to this. But no one has done anything, they say.

But on the contrary. If there were any problems, Kuchynsky would always turn to Taras Vashuk, who would give him a kind of carte blanche, a Scandinavian soldier tells the Kyiv Independent.

In addition to misconduct, the man would also afford a kind of false identity. As the Kyiv Independent has researched, Sasha Kuchynsky is not the man’s real name. It is said to be Piotr Kapuscinski, a former member of a criminal organization from Poland. He is said to have had conflicts with the law there several times, and in 2014 he fled to Ukraine. In Poland, Kapuscinski is wanted for fraud and faces up to eight years in prison. As the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza reports, he has already served a prison sentence.

He has also been investigated in Ukraine for serious robbery and sexual assault. In 2016 he had to go to prison for a year.

In May 2021, law enforcement searched his vehicle and found a semi-automatic pistol and bullets. He faced up to seven years in prison for illegal gun possession, but was released on $2,500 bail.

And after the outbreak of war in February, Kapuscinski enlisted in the military, after which the courts stayed his trial. Despite his criminal background, he rose to become a de facto commander of a high-ranking Ukrainian military unit. In the Legion, he describes himself as a colonel.

When he once again sent a group of legionnaires into action unprepared in this capacity, they reported it. A Brazilian officer who led them reports that his team initially spent two weeks preparing for a demining operation in the Zaporizhia region. A few days after the start of the operation, Kuchynsky was suddenly sent to Sievjerodonetsk in the eastern Luhansk region in order to hold a position close to enemy lines.

The Brazilian and his people were surprised but started planning the operation. However, neither Kuchynsky nor the other commanders gave them any information about the situation on the ground. Sievjerodonetsk was considered hard fought at the time. But the foreigners didn’t know that. Nor that another unit of foreigners had already been sent and attacked before them.

They stayed for several days, running out of water and food. Her request for relief was denied.

“No one slept, everyone is super tired. Some of my boys are dehydrated and one is injured. And we stood there,” reports the Brazilian. This was the moment when Kuchynsky disappeared from the scene. They finally received a radio signal from an unknown soldier that they were being relieved by another unit.

“I realized that these jerks don’t let us plan,” the Brazilian said of leading the unit. “They just took us into the middle of town and dumped us there to fight and die.”

However, the military prosecutor’s office, to which they have lodged a complaint, has launched an investigation. Whether it will have consequences for Kuchynsky?

Another group, which complained first to their commanders, then to lawmakers and finally to the Ukrainian president’s office after Kuchynsky stole their ammunition, has received little help so far, they say.

Aliona Verbytska, the Presidential Commissioner for Soldiers’ Rights, told the Kyiv Independent that she informed her superiors about the legionnaires’ complaints. The request for a statement from the President’s Office remained unanswered.