Everyone who fights for Ukraine is brave, but it takes something extra to fight there with an American flag patch on your chest and a skin color that marks you instantly recognizable to the enemy as foreign. Given how the Russians treat captured Ukrainians, the mind reels at how they’d treat a captured Malcolm Nance.
But he knows better than most what he’s getting into. During his 20 years in the U.S. Navy, Nance trained sailors and Marines in Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape techniques in case they ever became prisoners of war.
In fact, I wonder if training is his main role in the Ukrainian foreign legion, at least for now. He’s not a young man — he’ll turn 61 this year — and Ukraine is probably short on skilled instructors at the moment given how many men are deployed. Nance would be a logical choice to help with that as volunteers arrive in country. That may explain why he spoke to Joy Reid last night from Lviv, which is in western Ukraine near the Polish border, far away from the front in the east. Lviv is probably where foreign volunteers are being received, processed, and trained. Watch, then read on.
The Daily Beast made contact with him last night and asked if he’s worried for his safety:
“The international legion is one of the best-kept secrets in the country. That’s the story. They were higher-level people than I am. Most journalists have never seen an actual member or been following freelancers all over the battlefield. I really can’t tell you how diverse a group it really is. It is literally a multinational force of men and women who are here to defend Ukraine,” the Navy veteran told The Daily Beast. “I was very touched when I met the first platoon and saw they were here for the right reasons.”
“They were not here just to get guns,” he noted.
He continued: “Also if anybody gives me any f***ing flak just tell them to shut the f*** up since they’re obviously p*ssies who have never been in combat. The Legion only takes combat vets. #BOFADEEZ”
He told Reid that he joined the foreign legion about a month ago but he was still doing interviews with MSNBC in Lviv as recently as yesterday, with no apparent acknowledgement by the network that he was no longer an analyst but instead had joined Ukraine’s forces:
Russian missiles landed in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv as NBC News’ Ali Arouzi was interviewing MSNBC analyst Malcolm Nance. pic.twitter.com/rTnFAyjwsb
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 18, 2022
MSNBC followed up this morning by saying they had “incorrectly” described him as a network analyst in the tweet above when they should have described him as a “former analyst.” When did his “former” status become official, though? How many interviews has he done, seemingly in misleading civilian attire, from Ukraine without him or the network disclosing that he’s now a combatant in the conflict?
Anyway, I admire his courage but I do hope he’s prepared for what’s coming. Even some American veterans with combat experience in the Middle East have reportedly been shocked by their experience in Ukraine:
Many of the American and foreign volunteers who have arrived haven’t experienced enemy contact yet; of those who have, some are so traumatized or disillusioned that they have decided to head home. An American veteran tells Vice News that he was exposed to more in his “first three days” in Ukraine than his whole tour in Afghanistan.
“Even those with military experience, you’ve got to realize that there isn’t a war that has been fought like this in a long time,” another vet tells Vice. The US and Nato militaries are “spoiled. When it comes to fighting a war, they have air support, medivac, logistics, all kinds of different levels of intelligence, and support. Here in Ukraine, we had none of that.”
On the other hand, I can understand why Nance’s righteous outrage would impel him forward regardless of the risk. Russian depravity in the field is bad enough but it’s now being formally encouraged at the very highest level:
Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded honors Monday to an army brigade that Ukraine has accused of committing war crimes in Bucha, the Kyiv suburb where beheadings, mass graves and evidence of torture sent shock waves around the globe.
In a presidential decree, Putin praised the 64th Motorized Brigade for “mass heroism and bravery, steadfastness and fortitude” and for “distinguishing itself in military action for the protection of the Fatherland and state interests.”
The brigade was awarded the “esteemed honor” of becoming “guards,” upgrading its name to the “64th Guard Motorized Brigade.”
There’s no good-faith reason for Putin to commend units that served in northern Ukraine. They failed in their combat mission, after all: Kiev was never seriously threatened and even Bucha is back in Ukrainian hands. The point of commending the 64th Motorized Brigade is to celebrate them because they committed war crimes, not in spite of it. Good luck to Nance in taking a few of them out.
Here’s a little more from his interview with Reid, in which he rightly says that brutality is part of Russia’s strategy. It’s not a bug to them, it’s a feature of war.
.@MalcolmNance fighting in #Ukraine: “Let me say something to the president of the United States. Give them counter-battery long range artillery… Something that can out-range their artillery. If you do that, you stop the attacks on civilians.” #TheReidOut pic.twitter.com/ffbBedBEgG
— The ReidOut (@thereidout) April 18, 2022