The Ukraine Foreign Legion (also known as the International Legion for the Defense of Ukraine) is made up of fighters from many countries, including the U.S., U.K., Poland, Israel, Afghanistan, and others looking to resist Russian aggression. These fighters have primarily law enforcement and military backgrounds and use a variety of small arms.
The Ukraine Foreign Legion seems to be getting some of the odder variants of the equipment being donated by countries around the world. Today we are going to take a peek at those small arms.
Definitive sources about front-line equipment can be tough to find. We’ve turned mostly to social media sources including Ukraine Weapon’s Tracker, War Noir, and several more across Twitter and Instagram. These types of accounts source social media posts displaying numerous scenes and weapons in use by the Ukraine military. From those photos, we’ve gathered a small list of the current small arms of the Ukraine Foreign Legion.
As Sandboxx News covered early in the war, the FN FNC became one of the more common rifles of the Ukraine Foreign Legion. These Belgium-donated rifles armed the Belgian military for decades and were only been recently replaced. These piston-operated guns are a bit on the heavy side and lack modularity, but they are well-made rifles. They fire the 5.56 NATO round, which is quickly becoming more and more common amongst Ukraine’s fighters as the war progresses.
The Ukraine Foreign Legion also uses Belgium’s latest assault rifle, the FN SCAR-L, which also fires the 5.56 round. This is a short-stroke gas-piston gun that is much more modern than the FNC. It features rails for optics and accessories and is a bit lighter (which is what the L in its name indicates). The FN SCAR-L is a very accurate gun and is well-known for its reliability.
The Bren is another short-stroke gas-piston gun that’s very similar to the SCAR, so much so it’s often joked that the Bren is the Czech SCAR. The Czech Republic donated the weapons to Ukraine and they’ve been popular with the Foreign Legion. The Bren is a modern, modular rifle that’s accessory-ready, fairly light, and quite reliable. The gun comes in either 5.56 or 7.62, but we’ve only seen a 5.56 variation in use in Ukraine.
CZ VZ 58
The VZ 58 is AK-like in appearance but a very different weapon than the AK. This rifle came into service in 1959 and used a rather novel operating system in the form of a gas-operated, hinged-locking, piece-assisted breechblock. It’s quite reliable and fires the classic 7.62x39mm round of which Ukraine likely has plenty. Although the gun is somewhat outdated it is not obsolete.
The United States has donated a number of small arms to Ukraine, including modern M4 carbines, which have been seen in service with the Foreign Legion. These direct-impingement rifles provide a very reliable and lightweight carbine for troops. They are very modular and easy to outfit with modern accessories. In the past, we’ve seen these rifles have issues in freezing environments, so hopefully, the soldiers issued M4s know to take precautions.
NUMEROUS AK VARIANTS
Unsurprisingly there are a ton of AK-types in Ukraine, including the Russian-made AKM and AK 74 series alongside the RPK light machine gun. These rifles either fire the 7.62×39 or the 5.45×39 and can be either fixed- and or folding-stock types. Countries like Serbia have donated their AK variants to Ukraine, and we’ve even seen Chinese Type 56 rifles used by the Ukrainian forces. It’s somewhat difficult to tell which AKs have gone to the Ukraine Foreign Legion, but they most certainly have been seen wielding them.
Another unsurprising sight is the PKM belt-fed machine gun. This medium machine gun fires the 7.62x54R and has been seen in the hands of American volunteers fighting in Ukraine. This belt-fed support weapon is one of the better medium machine guns out there. It operates on the same principle as the Kalashnikov and is perfectly suited for the Ukrainian winter. It’s also light for its design and quite effective.
M249 SAW/ FN MINIME
The Belgian FN Minime became the American M249 SAW. The two weapons are largely the same and with both Belgium and the United States donating weapons to Ukraine, it’s tough to say which is which by looking at photos. This 5.56 caliber, belt-fed, light machine gun provides a squad with a designated support weapon and is much easier to use in urban areas and tight quarters than a medium machine gun. These guns offer portability for a machine gun with a reliable open-bolt design.
M240/FN MAG MACHINE GUNS
Like the M249 and Minime, the FN MAG and M240 are largely the same gun but with different designations. The M240 is my favorite medium machine gun. It’s insanely reliable and quite accurate and capable. It’s admittedly heavy but easy to use and quite effective. This 7.62 NATO machine gun offers a general-purpose machine gun for infantry and vehicle use and is at home in both defense and offense. It’s tough to find a more reliable machine gun out there.
According to an interview hosted by Czech news agency Seznam Zpravy, a Czech member of the Ukraine Foreign Legion carried the CZ Scorpion and P10C at his air defense position.
With his primary weapon being an anti-air weapon, the use of a smaller, lighter SMG, in the form of the Scorpion, makes sense as it’s easier to carry along the heavy anti-air weapon. The Scorpion is a direct blowback, 9mm submachine gun designed for the Czech military and police forces. It’s a modular weapon with plenty of rails for accessories. The SMG features a folding stock making it even more compact for an easy-carrying design.
The same Czech fighter carried a CZ P10C which is a modern 9mm handgun. This polymer frame, striker-fired design, has become quite popular. The handgun is fairly standard in design but quite accurate with a nice trigger and that famed Czech reliability.
Dozens of different types of weapons have been donated to Ukraine and everything from Steyr AUGS to Mossberg 500s has made its way to the country. As such, it’s likely impossible to catalog all the firearms used by the Ukraine Foreign Legion. However, the above is a good start. If you know of any we should add to the list, please list them below.
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.
This article was first published by Sandboxx News.
Image: U.S. Military/U.S. Government/Creative Commons.