Sri Lankan mercenaries in Ukraine: FM says govt. has no control over what they do



Ali Sabry

Russian embassy in Colombo declines to comment

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, PC, yesterday (07) said that the government could not do anything about the activities of ex-military officers overseas.Minister Sabry said so in response to The Island query whether the Sri Lankan law prohibited Sri Lankans from joining the armed forces of Ukraine. Three ex-military personnel including a former Special Forces officer serving with what is widely referred to as Ukrainian Foreign Legion aka International Legion for the Defence of Ukraine were killed in a Russian artillery strike early this week.

Asked whether the government could step in to prevent our ex-military men joining Ukrainian Foreign Legion, Minister Sabry said: “They have retired from military and have gone there on their own. As Sri Lankans have the freedom of movement and once they leave the country legally we have very little control over what they do, unless they violated the law of the country where they are residing or absconded after committing a crime.”

The government has no record of ex-military personnel who had volunteered to fight for Ukraine.The Russian embassy in Colombo declined to comment when The Island asked whether the presence of ex-military personnel was brought to the notice of the government.

Foreign media reported that the body of Andrew Ranish Hevage, who held the rank of Captain at the time he retired from Special Forces here has been recovered. The other dead were identified as M. Priyantha, a former petty officer of Sri Lanka Navy and Rodney Jayasinghe, a former member of the Sinha Regiment. According to these reports, Sri Lankans had been making an attempt to recover bodies of Ukrainian soldiers when they were targeted by Russian artillery.

Ukraine has offered USD 600 as monthly salary for deployment behind the front-line, USD 1,200 for high risk sectors and staggering USD 3,300 for combat. Ukraine has also declared additional bonuses for selected units that had been assigned special operations. While those who had been disabled were paid a special payment, the families of fallen members received approximately USD 400,000, according to the Ukrainian Foreign Legion.