TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Images this week began to surface on social media showing Taiwan's flag on a wall in Ukraine's capital of Kyiv, and the man responsible is an American citizen rallying international support for Ukraine's war effort against Russia.
The man behind the wall of banners, Ryan Routh, told CNA that he posted the flags to pay tribute to the nations that have citizens fighting in Ukraine's foreign legion, the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine. Routh said there have been no protests about the presence of the Taiwan flag so far, but even if China is dissatisfied, "I can order another 1,000, they can't touch my flags."
Routh, 56, originally hails from Hawaii, but most recently worked in the construction industry in North Carolina and has no military background. He came to Kyiv more than two months ago to show his support for Ukraine and wanted to join the foreign legion.
However, due to his age, he was unable to do so, and he is instead currently assisting the legion in recruiting volunteers for the Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie units in Kharkiv. Thus far, Routh has assisted in recruiting 70 volunteers to join the fight against Russia.
Routh began posting flags on the wall of a sandbagged monument in Kyiv's Independence Square. He told the news agency that he included Taiwan's flag because he had met at least five Taiwanese volunteers serving in the legion over the past two months and learned about Taiwan's contribution to Ukraine's war effort.
According to Routh, he has yet to receive any protests from China about the presence of the Taiwan flag. He said that any pressure that would come from China would be "nothing" compared to the daily assault by Russian forces on every soldier who supports Ukraine.
He said that he will continue to stay in Kyiv and encourage more people to fight against Russia. European countries deliver truckloads of food, medical supplies, and military equipment, but Ukraine may need three to four times more support, estimated Routh.
The volunteer pointed out that there are only 50 national flags on the stone wall, meaning that there are over 100 countries that do not have a single soldier that has volunteered to fight for Ukraine, "This is unacceptable." He emphasized the war between Russia and Ukraine is a battle of good versus evil.
(Twitter, Ryan Routh photo)
Routh asserted that at this critical moment, all countries should give their soldiers unpaid leave and provide air tickets to fly to Ukraine to participate in the war to prevent Russia from starting another war. "We should be united and share success and failure, which is what these flags stand for," said Routh.
Yao Kuan-chun (姚冠均) was cited on Sunday by the news agency as saying that about 10 Taiwanese soldiers have responded to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's call for international volunteers to assist in the fight against Russia and were deployed to navy and security units.