Ukrainian-Israelis plan to join conflict, take up arms in defense of Ukraine

Ukrainian-born former IDF soldier says he and other Ukrainian-Israelis will travel to their embattled birthplace to fight against Russian invasion.

By World Israel News Staff

A Ukrainian-born former IDF soldier is gearing up to return to his birthplace in order to take up arms and stave off invading Russian troops – and he says he’s not the only Israeli considering such a move.

Sergei Nowitzki, a 38-year-old who served in the Israeli army and immigrated to the Jewish State at the age of 14, told Ynet that he can’t bear to watch the conflict in Ukraine from afar.

“It’s tough, and I feel like crying,” he said. “The whole world is afraid of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who sends soldiers to kill children and civilians. It makes me want to grab a weapon and volunteer to join the Ukrainian side.

Nowitzki’s mother and grandmother currently live in Israel, but his father remains in Ukraine. He also has a child from a previous marriage who is stuck in the embattled Eastern European nation.

“I enlisted in the IDF willingly, and now I must try to protect my family in Ukraine,” he told Ynet.

“I love Israel, and whenever something happens here I join the reserves immediately. Now there is a war in Ukraine, and I along with other citizens of Israel who were born in Ukraine, ask the world, including Israel, to help.”

He added that he and other Ukrainian-born Israelis were waiting for governmental permits to transport military gear out of the country.

Once that permission is received, he said, they will travel to Ukraine to join the conflict.

“We will fly from Israel to Poland, and from there we will cross the Ukrainian-Polish border with a bus or on foot,” he said.

“We still don’t know in which city we will be stationed, we will most likely get our orders as we cross the Ukrainian border. If everything goes smoothly, I hope we can leave for Ukraine in the next 48 to 72 hours.”

His Ukrainian passport should help streamline the journey, though he hopes that the conflict is resolved in the near future.

“I hope we don’t have to fight and that a peace agreement will be reached, but if not, I will do what it takes to protect my relatives.”

Nowitzki’s interview with Ynet comes on the heels of a statement from Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky welcoming non-Ukrainian nationals to travel to the country and fight with the Ukrainian army.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she would “support” British nationals who chose to take up arms in defense of Ukraine.