First Dutch volunteer fighter killed in Ukraine
A Dutch volunteer fighter has been killed in Ukraine, according to De Telegraaf. It marks the first time a Dutch fighter was killed in the conflict, which escalated when Russia invaded its neighbor at the end of February. The man, 55-year-old Ron Vogelaar, was fighting with the Ukrainian Foreign Legion when he was hit by artillery fire near Kharkov last Wednesday.
He died immediately, according to a Dutch volunteer from the same unit. “He has never regretted his decision. He was happy and he felt he was in the right place. His commander said, 'He died a hero,'” his daughter wrote on social media. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the newspaper on Monday that it had yet to receive a report of the death from the Ukrainian authorities.
Over 200 residents of the Netherlands signed up with the Ukrainian embassy in The Hague to help defend Ukraine, including at least 70 Dutch people signed, according to reports published at the beginning of March. Many of the others were natives of Poland and Ukraine who had previously relocated to the Netherlands.
Since then, few updates have been given about the number of Dutch people serving in the Foreign Legion in Ukraine. It was clear that dozens more were eager to travel to the country in March, according to Gert Snitselaar, the former Dutch national coordinator of the Foreign Legion working with the Ukrainian embassy.
However, this changed after the Russian missile strike on the military base in Yavoriv on Sunday, March 13, Snitselaar said. The attack left 35 people dead and 134 injured, including two Dutch citizens. The military base was serving as the training site for the Foreign Legion. Russia claimed its strike was aimed at “foreign fighters.”