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Joining the fight in Ukraine comes with consequences

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Stephen Struthers has been trying to call the Ukraine embassy in Washington, D.C.., for days but kept getting a busy signal.

So, he and a friend drove to the District of Columbia. They wanted to join the fight against Russia. 

Struthers declined to be interviewed by News 8.

But, a representative of the Ukraine government in Chicago told News 8 that the nation is accepting applications for people to join their fight against Russia.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Sunday night that more than 20,000 people from 52 countries have already volunteered to fight in Ukraine, where they will serve in a newly created international legion. He did not say how many of the foreign volunteers have arrived in Ukraine.

Struthers and his friend showed up Thursday at the Ukraine embassy in Washington. Struthers was wearing full camouflage gear when he was arrested outside the embassy. In his car, which had Indiana plates, police found a shotgun, a large magazine, a machete, seven knives, knuckles and a laser pointer.

The U.S. Secret Service says he was arrested for carrying a rifle or shotgun outside a home or business, and the shotgun wasn’t registered in under his name in the District of Columbia. His friend was also arrested.

Struthers told the Secret Service he wanted to volunteer for the fight against Russia. 

“Anastasia” at the Ukraine consulate general’s office in Chicago told News 8 that the official Ukraine embassy’s website was down, and that the Ukraine government staff in the United States is encouraging people that want to join the fight to apply via the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine’s Facebook page.

“So, you can download the application and fill it out and send it to the embassy, and send an email address also in that application, and when they receive that application they will respond to you with all the instructions on what to do next. It may take some time for them to respond,” said “Anastasia.”

One note: It’s a volunteer effort, and the Ukraine government is not hiring people for its fight. 

J. Stewart Goodwin, director of the Indiana War Memorial and a former Air Force officer, had witnessed a surge in the call to arms surge during 9-11. Now, he cautioned people thinking of joining the Ukraine fight.

He said, “The best thing I would suggest is that they do some research and found out where this is, as opposed to getting themselves to D.C. or to get themselves to an airport and think they are just going to walk in and take care of it, because the ramifications that could come from this could be life-threatening, and things that could affect your life financially or physically for the rest of your life.”