WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A Polish man who died fighting in Ukraine was buried in his native soil Tuesday as weeping mourners praised him as a hero of two nations.
The body of Daniel Sztyber, 35, of Warsaw, lay in a coffin covered in Poland’s white-and-red flag. Young Ukrainians draped in their nation’s flag and aging World War II veterans joined Sztyber’s parents, sister and childhood friends in mourning him.
At the graveside in Warsaw’s Powązki Cemetery, the resting place of illustrious Poles, Sztyber was praised as a freedom fighter in a long Polish tradition of sacrifice.
It is illegal for Poles to fight in foreign armies, but some have volunteered to help defend Ukraine during Russia’s invasion. Poles, like other foreigners who have decided to take part in a war that technically isn’t theirs, feel they are fighting to defend the free world against the menace of a reawakened Russian imperialism.
It is not clear how many Poles or volunteers from other nations have died while serving in the Ukrainian Foreign Legion. Neither Russia nor Ukraine has made the number of their soldiers killed during the war public.
Poland’s government also cannot say. It does not keep count of those who die in Ukraine because they are acting alone, said Arkadiusz Puławski, a representative from a security department in the Polish prime minister’s office.
Source: Associated Press