Yuriy Nikolaevich, the forest engineer, is a rarity among those interviewed: He has military training. As a young man in the Soviet Union, he learned how to operate anti-submarine missiles in St. Petersburg, Russia. “I can handle Kalashnikovs, automatics — I just need a couple of days” to familiarize himself with the weapons again, he said.
He leaves this week for Ivano-Frankivsk, the city in western Ukraine where he grew up, and then intends to join the front line in Kyiv or somewhere else under heavy attack farther east.
Ukraine’s consulate in New York City has advised volunteers on what to pack, he said. “They ask us to bring very little of personal belongings, just a bag per person, and provided us with a list of military equipment and gear.” Because supplies are running short, he is also taking more than a dozen bags filled with medications, as well as items like thermal socks for other soldiers.
Oleksii Holubov, the consul general, was quick to stress that his office is not “a recruitment agency,” but confirmed that there is a suggested packing list for people with American passports who want to volunteer. It includes “good boots, eye and ear protection, foot powder” and belts and holders compatible with AK47s.
Mr. Nikolaevich has two daughters, the younger of whom, Sofia, 21, is expected to join him as a medical volunteer. His wife and older daughter are considering volunteering, too. “Every Ukrainian family is helping, whether by gathering donations or fighting,” he said.
Mr. Liscovich, the tech entrepreneur, left San Francisco several days ago for Zaporizhzhia, his hometown, carrying two changes of clothes, a solar panel to charge his phones and laptop, a water filtration system, a first aid kit, $4,000 in cash and credit cards for supplies. He flew into Poland, then took two trains to Ukraine. From there, he got a lift from some firefighters, and then another from strangers.
“I’ve never held a gun, besides maybe a water pistol,” said Mr. Liscovich, whom fellow soldiers have nicknamed “the American.” Because of his background in tech, he was quickly assigned as head of logistics and procurement for the local military unit. He has already spent $20,000 on supplies, using donations sent to him on Venmo.