Danish fighter fears deportation from Ukraine
Danish national Karl “Storm” Balderson could face deportation from Ukraine and then face time in prison after Kiev authorities rejected his visa, the fighter claimed on his social media on Monday.
Balderson traveled to Ukraine in early March, shortly after Russia launched its special military operation, to join Kiev’s International Legion. The 32-year-old blogger claims to have taken part in battles near Bucha and Irpen and has been seen alongside the Wiking Team, which consists primarily of nordic nationals fighting in Ukraine.
Dubbed the “viking volunteer,” Storm has gained something of a following on social media and many of his fans have started donating to the Danish national, who now says he wants to remain in Ukraine and become a Ukrainian citizen and has apparently even opened up a tattoo salon in Kiev.
However, in a Facebook post explaining his situation, Balderson stated that he was contacted by the Ukrainian immigration center who said they have rejected his visa because they had not received any paperwork regarding his service in the Ukrainian Armed Forces and have ordered him to leave the country.
Balderson insists he has served in three different military units within the International legion, and expressed his frustration that they “cannot figure out how to send necessary papers.”
“If I go home without military papers I can get up to 10 years in prison,” said Balderson, who has an arrest warrant for destruction of property in Denmark which, according to him, would be waived if he presents army paperwork.
His fans have now started a social media campaign to draw the attention of Ukrainian officials to the issue and so far it seems to have caught the eye of David Braun, the Parliamentary leader of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s Servant of the People party.
Balderson is one of thousands of foreign fighters who have responded to a call by Zelensky and flocked to Ukraine since the launch of Russia’s military operation on February 24. Moscow has estimated that almost 7,000 of what it describes as “mercenaries” have arrived in Ukraine since the outbreak of the conflict.
However, according to Russia’s defense ministry, the number of foreign fighters there has been steadily diminishing, due to either Russian strikes on Foreign Legion bases or to the fighters leaving the country voluntarily. The ministry’s latest report suggests that there are currently 2,190 foreign fighters and specialists left in Ukraine.