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From Medellin to Kharkiv



18th of May 2024 in Kharkiv, the mood in the city was schizophrenic. Some people did their best to grit on with their normal way of life. Young women eating in a fancy restaurant and elderly tending for their small gardens. Despite the occasional Russian bombing and Ukrainian ATACMS overflight.

On the other hand many of the residents were heading west by any means necessary and the Ukrainian armed forces digging fortifications on the outskirts of the city. Many of the defenders coming from the north to rest, pickup supplies or build fortifications had the all too familiar 1000 yard stare or the compulsive humour to keep their mind intact.


Comparing Kharkiv to Lviv in the west a few days earlier, Lviv was like a ray of sunshine. A casual observer could not have told that the country was in the middle of the bloodiest war in Europe since fall of Berlin.

After travelling to the southern city of Ternopil, you still couldn't immediately tell that a war was going on. But upon a closer inspection could pick up clues. Much more uniformed soldiers moving around. And a permanent buzzing activity around the city's military commissariat, that has been tasked with the interesting duty of processing the influx of international volunteers coming to fight the Russian invasion as members of the armed forces of Ukraine.

While the International Legion and the multitude of other units, like the famous 3rd Assault Brigade of the Azov, comprise of a eclectic mix of nationalities from Americans and Brits to Finns and Estonians and larger contingents of Georgians and Belarussians, a new fraction is growing rapidly.

Road to Kharkiv 

At the moment the single fastest growing force fighting fot Ukraine are the Colombians. They are formed up into detachments and led by spanish speaking Ukrainian Army NCO:s.

Even the low pay, that Ukraine can afford to pay it's contract soldiers is enough to lure people into a brutal all out war. There is a decent amount of distrust towards these troops among both Ukrainian and other international soldiers. 

The Colombian volunteers waiting for their rather bureaucratic enlistment procedure were in rather high spirits, but didn't take up on my suggestion to call their unit the "Narcos Battalion", can't win every day. Their numbers are sufficient though, that some local shops boast "do not touch" signs in Spanish as well as Ukrainian.

The bureaucracy and manpower intensiveness of the enlistment process of the foreign volunteers, is indicative of some of the problems within the Ukrainian military. Archaic administrative processes are in stark contrast with the innovative spirit the lower ranks are expressing on the battlefield.

Ukraine asks for help from the west mainly in equipment and munitions, but we should also take a long hard look at the structure and administration of the Ukrainian military. There are significant military manpower resources that could be sent to battle by just streamlining processes into this millennium.

Another important issue that touches the previous is training. Many of the Ukrainian soldiers have only received minimal training and some of the western training given is ill suited for the current peer level warfare. Only few of the western countries can provide training based on the scenarios Ukraine is presently facing.

Training of NCO:s that can reform the Ukrainian military training should be started immediately. West needs to train the trainers, instead of rushing in more cannon fodder. If there is a need to train troops directly, that should be done in Ukraine, by suitably trained officers and NCOs who are not hindered by the Ukrainian bureaucracy. One solution would be to use personnel through private companies contracted by the Ukrainian government to conduct it.

With all of these issues the Ukrainian spirit is still unbreakable. There is a strong sense of solidarity that was shown how strangers, both soldiers and civilians, helped me when I managed to run out of diesel while driving towards Kharkiv.

Yes, the writer is that stupid.


  1. Visit the site to discover the wonders of Medellin and Kharkiv. Take in all that these cities have to offer in terms of breathtaking scenery, fascinating experiences, and unique cultures. Now is the time to begin your journey! I'm really delighted with your fantastic blog post; it offers genuine facts and is quite transparent about the issues at hand. Your webpage is really beneficial. I appreciate you sharing.
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