Numerous foreign mercenaries are fighting in the ranks of the Ukrainian troops against the Russian army. According to the Ukrainian army, around 20,000 have volunteered for military service. The exact number remains secret. They come from the USA, Great Britain, from areas of the former Soviet Union – and at least one also from Switzerland.
Schaffhausen’s Avi Motola (47) is a sniper in the army. He served in the East, fought at the front against Vladimir Putin’s troops (70). In a report by the “Rundschau” he unpacks his motives. “I don’t want to pack small children in plastic bags anymore,” he says. Even if he could only save one child, “then my work was worth it.”
In Switzerland, there is a risk of imprisonment
As a sniper, he is primarily “the team’s backup,” says Motola. He observes a large area, keeps an eye out for enemy forces. He is sometimes in the same place for hours without moving. The concentration is always high. “It’s about recognizing enemy forces – and if necessary, eliminating them.”
After his assignment, Avi Motola simply cannot return to Switzerland. In this country, he faces imprisonment. Swiss law forbids fighting in a foreign army. The sniper has no understanding for that. “A law like this shows the great freedom of a state,” he says. “Germans, French, Italians – they can all come here and then go home again. They are even thanked in their home countries,” says the volunteer. Only he, as a Swiss, should expect to be punished.
son stayed behind
Despite his commitment, he still struggles with prejudice. Many think that people like me come here to play war, to kill,” he says in the “Rundschau” article. However, he wanted to save civilians and free the Ukrainians from the Russians. The atrocities committed by Bucha and Irpin were decisive for his joining the Ukrainian army.
Before the war, Motola lived outside of Switzerland. He left his family, including his four-year-old son, behind. That was the biggest sacrifice. That’s why he asks himself the question every day: “What the hell am I doing here?” But other fighters also have something to lose. “Otherwise it would have been over a long time ago.”
This month, Avi Motola travels home for a few days to visit his family. His contract is limited. After the holidays, however, he will probably return to the war. (zis)