Marine Corps Doubles Down on Order Prohibiting Personnel From Traveling to Ukraine

by Suzanne Halliburton
(Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images)

The U.S. Marine Corps sent a specific message to its soldiers — no traveling to Ukraine for any reason. That includes reservists.

And the order also forbids travel to Belarus and Moldova. Belarus is a Russia ally. Meanwhile, Moldova fears it may become Russia’s next target.

Basically, the Marine order reemphasized a travel ban issued by the State Department earlier this month. Americans fighting on behalf of Ukraine are mercenaries. This means they will get no protection if captured by Russia.

The 4-1-1: Marine Corps Issues Travel Ban to Ukraine

  • Under the order, no Marine can travel to Ukraine to help fight the Russians. This includes reservists.
  • Marines are first branch of military to issue such an order.
  • If caught, Russia would treat soldiers as criminals, not prisoners of war.
  • Ukraine formed a new defense legion for foreign fighters.
  • Ukrainian Embassy said 7,000 Americans signed up for the legion.

Major Jim Stenger, a Marine spokesperson, told Newsweek the message wasn’t a new order. He said that the intent was to send the State Department travel advisory. Stenger said Marines might not have read the State Department message. But they’d notice one sent through direct Marine channels.

“So this was an attempt to communicate an important message to our Marines and Sailors directly,” he said.

So far, the Marines are the only branch of the U.S. military to issue a travel ban.

Ukrainian Embassy Said 7,000 Americans Signed Up for New Legion

The Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C. told Newsweek that about 7,000 U.S. citizens signed up for a new defense force. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called it the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine. An embassy spokesperson said not all the signees were approved. And, he said not all of them are headed to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, officials in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, said thousands of foreign fighters are helping against the Russians. The Russians started their invasion Feb. 24, so Thursday marked one month of fighting.

Here’s why U.S. soldiers, including reservists, going to Ukraine is another problem. President Joe Biden has said that any direct fighting could lead to a world war.

A Pentagon spokesperson told Newsweek that Homeland Security was exploring the issue of reservists joining the fight, however. The officials want to know the “implications and consequences” for reservists fighting for another country and government.

Fighting could impact the reservists “citizenship, criminal or legal implications.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that the Russian Defense Ministry describes these fighters as “mercenaries.” A spokesperson said anyone captured will be criminally prosecuted.

Earlier this month, the Post reported there were “waves” of retired veterans flocking to Ukraine. They want to fight against Russia or help in other ways.

Lane Perkins, a Navy veteran, told the Post: “This is a noble cause.”