Former Marine Trevor Reed has been injured fighting in Ukraine. If you want to go to Ukraine and fight against Russia, you do so at your own risk.
Reed was infamously arrested in Russia in 2019 for committing violence against a police officer after getting drunk. He was sentenced to nine years in prison, in addition to time served while awaiting trial, but was released in a prisoner exchange in 2022 for a Russian pilot held by the United States for the non-crime of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States.
In 2023, Reed went to Ukraine to fight against Russian forces. He was wounded a few weeks ago by shrapnel from a land mine. An NGO took him to Germany where he received treatment for his unspecified wounds.
According to State Department spokesman Vedant Patel:
As I indicated, we have been incredibly clear warning American citizens, American nationals, not to travel to Ukraine, let alone participate in fighting. As you know, we are not in a place to provide assistance to evacuate private U.S. citizens from Ukraine, including those Americans who may decide to travel to Ukraine to participate in fighting.
Since the beginning of this war we have warned that U.S. citizens who travel to Ukraine, especially with the purpose of participating in fighting there, that they face significant risks including the risk of capture or death or physical harm.
Patel was careful to say that Reed “was not engaged in any activities on behalf of the U.S. government.”
Other Americans have been injured while fighting against Russia for Ukraine, and supposedly some Americans have been killed.
This is all as it should be.
If an American believes that Russia has committed a great injustice against Ukraine, there are several things that he can do. He can send money, send supplies, send food, send medicine, or send weapons. He can join with other like-minded Americans and pool their resources to do these things. He can pray for Ukraine. He can try to persuade other Americans to take up the Ukrainian cause. But regardless, Americans who want to help Ukraine in some way should do it on their own dime. They should not expect U.S. taxpayers to foot the bill.
And if someone is really that committed to the defense of Ukraine, then he can go to Ukraine and help the Ukrainian military to fight against Russia—like Trevor Reed did. But those who choose to do so, go at their own risk. They are on the hook for their own transportation, living arrangements, and medical expenses should they get injured. And Uncle Sam should not lift a finger to try to get them released if they are captured by Russia forces.
The official foreign policy of the United States should be neutrality and nonintervention. If an individual American wants to takes sides in a country’s civil war or takes sides in a military conflict between countries, then he should do so on his own dime and at his own risk.