Thousands of foreign fighters from Europe have responded to Ukrainian call to fight against Russians.

European governments warn citizens not to join the Ukraine conflict which has left thousands dead and millions displaced.
European governments warn citizens not to join the Ukraine conflict which has left thousands dead and millions displaced. (Reuters)

Seven European Union countries have urged their citizens to refrain from joining the Ukrainian military resistance against Russia.

The appeal was issued by the justice ministers of France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg and Belgium.

The ministers of the seven countries "have unanimously discouraged Europeans from joining" the ranks of voluntary combatants heading to the conflict in Ukraine, according to a statement published late on Monday after their meeting in Brussels.

Following the start of Russian attacks on February 24, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy openly invited foreigners to come to his country's aid as part of an "International Legion" that would fight side by side with Ukrainians.

On March 6, Ukraine said around 20,000 people had answered his call.

"We obviously discourage people to travel to a war zone," French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said after talks with his counterparts in Brussels.

"To my knowledge, there have been very few departures from France that could be confirmed... almost none," said Darmanin, whose country currently holds the presidency of the 27-member EU.

A Ukrainian government website has identified eight of those countries as Britain, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Israel, Latvia, the Netherlands and Poland.

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Russian mercenaries

British military intelligence said on Monday the Russian private military company, the Wagner Group, has been deployed to eastern Ukraine.

“They are expected to deploy more than 1,000 mercenaries, including senior leaders of the organisation, to undertake combat operations,” Britain’s Ministry of Defence said.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters earlier this month that if Americans want to help Ukraine, they should donate to relief agencies.

US officials have not said whether they would take action under the Neutrality Act against Americans who ignore that advice. 

The law applies fines or imprisonment to any US citizen who, within US jurisdiction, "accepts and exercises a commission [payment]” to serve another country in a war against any foreign entity with whom the US is at peace.

READ MORE: What Russia is teaching students about Ukraine conflict

Source: TRTWorld and agencies