American Fighting With Ukraine Rebels Urges Others to Join Him

MOSCOW - With his face covered by a camouflage balaclava and a Midwestern aw-shucks tinge to his voice, Hunter from Illinois called on other Westerners to join him in fighting alongside Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The man who claims to be, and sounds like, an American appeared on a three minute video released on YouTube by a media outlet associated with the Vostok Battalion, one of the main separatist groups fighting against Ukrainian troops.

"I arrived here to help, help New Russia, Novorossiya, become an independent state," he said in response to a question by someone behind the camera. Novorossiya is the tsar-era name for the region favored by the separatists.

Hunter, who did not provide his last name in the video, said he joined the Vostok Battalion in the city of Donetsk "about a month" ago. It appears that he does not yet speak Russian, as the questions were translated for him and he responded in English.

He urged other Westerners to join him.

"People with U.S. military experience would be very valuable here," he said.

Asked for his views on the conflict, Hunter admitted his knowledge of the situation is "limited," but blamed the Ukrainian government for ignoring the will of the people.

"It seems to be a very simple, straightforward situation and the Kiev junta does not necessarily, I believe, reflect, they don't, they don't consider the popular opinion of the people of Donbass," he said, referring the common name of the region.

He suggested, as a solution, that Ukrainian authorities cede the territory in the east.

"It'd be better for everybody if they'd just come to a peaceful resolution. Give a reasonable amount of territory to the new state of Novorussia and, you know, make a peaceful, peaceful arrangement," he said.

There had been at least one other American fighting in Ukraine, but on the other side of the conflict.

Mark Paslawsky, a Ukrainian-American U.S. Army veteran from New Jersey, was fighting for a pro-Ukrainian militia under the non de guerre "Franko." He was killed in battle in late August.