TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The first Taiwanese man confirmed to be actively serving as a soldier in Ukraine's foreign legion is providing an account of his experiences thus far.
On April 7, Naive Wang (王楠穎), 40, became the first Taiwanese citizen to be admitted into the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine. An Indigenous man from the Amis tribe, Wang Jui-ti (王芮緹), signed up to join the legion in March but was rejected for not having combat experience.
It appears that Wang, who is originally from New Taipei City's Shulin District, was admitted because he has resided in Ukraine for nearly eight years and is proficient in Ukrainian, Russian, English, Japanese, and Mandarin. Since joining the legion, he has been relaying his experiences to CNA, when communications are available.
Wang when he arrived in Poland aboard evacuation bus from Ukraine. (Naive Wang photo)
Wang said that he is mentally prepared to expect the worst-case scenario, including being shot, suffering broken arms and legs, dying in battle, or being tortured after being captured. Wang said another possibility is being separated from his unit alone in the wilderness without supplies or map and having to figure out how to avoid being captured by Russian troops while searching for friendly forces.
Wang emphasized that serving on the front lines is "very different from summer camp." Wang pointed out that many fellow foreigners had signed up with a "semi-tourist mentality," so every time they go to the front line, there are more members who fear they will die or cannot bear the hardships and want to quit.
Wang during his master's studies at Kharkiv Air Force University. (Naive Wang photo)
He said that on his first night at the training camp on April 12, it was still so cold in the tent that even his sleeping bag had frost on it, and he shivered all night long. He observed that although he had undergone hardships while in the Taiwan Army in Matsu, such as sleeping in a tunnel and engaging in live-fire drills, battlefield first aid, and night patrols, "I have never had such intense NATO-style military training."
Before leaving Kyiv for the front lines, Wang said the company commander asked for the last time if any foreign legion members wanted to quit, and four more people raised their hands and dropped out on the spot. Wang said he was saddened to see the large number of buildings and scenery turned into scorched earth.
Wang in Poland helping with Ukrainian refugees. (Naive Wang photo)
Commenting on the conditions, Wang said: "So far, I haven't had a chance to change my clothes for more than 10 days. I could only eat military rations for two consecutive days. I stood for sentry duty in the rain, and it was on the fourth day that I could finally drink a cup of hot water." He said that his squad leader had them serve as special combat troops in training raids and that they trained for eight hours a day.
Because members of the foreign legion are a favorite sniping target for Russian soldiers, Wang said they have to wear their body armor and be fully armed at all times. He said that at night, vehicles must move without headlights, and they are always on the lookout for sudden attacks such as airstrikes.
Wang heading from Poland back into Ukraine to join foreign legion. (Naive Wang photo)
Despite the hardships, Wang, who is Christian, said there are also heartwarming moments such as experiencing Easter services on April 17. During downtime, Wang says he spends a lot of time conversing with his fellow legionnaires about their respective countries and how they can cooperate to rebuild Ukraine after the war.