Catching up with Belfast man Ajay on Facetime

Ajay Spence was a bit of a lost soul back in the day. When Belfast’s Friday night rock club ‘The Venue’ was in full flow a regular visitor was a Mohican topped, ripped jeans clad Ajay who was usually a bit the worst for wear after partying a little too hard. All of a sudden Ajay had disappeared and rumour had it he had joined the army.

On the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine Ajay now heads up recruitment and vetting for the International Legion for the Defense of Ukraine (ILDU) reporting to the Ukrainian embassy in London. Ajay makes sure that only the most qualified veterans make it to war torn Ukraine and that they are prepared for what awaits.

The latest intake to the International Legion undertake several weeks of intense training before deployment.

The journey has been an interesting, and sad, one for Ajay having witnessed the aftermath of the Russian onslaught of Bucha and having lost good friends along the way in both the ILDU and the Georgian Legion.

‘’Bucha really sticks in my mind’’ says Ajay. ‘’Bodies littered the streets, and it was clear these poor people had been tied up and tortured, including kids’’.

It was evident in the early days of the war that totally unsuitable people were crossing into Ukraine and were more interested in being war tourists than actually helping the people. It was decided that a specialised recruitment system be set up and, a year later, it seems to be doing the job.

Ukraine: Only experienced veterans need apply.

The International Legion only takes experienced veterans who have gone through a detailed video interview where they must show proof of service and are able to ask relevant questions.

‘’Our recruits need to gather a list of equipment as only basic gear and weapons are issued by the Ukrainians. It has been a Godsend that people have donated whatever they can so we can buy much needed medical supplies and our new recruits bring over these supplies in donated 4×4 vehicles’’

Ajay is a character far removed from that head banging Belfast punk and now has a newfound responsibility and purpose that is much needed and appreciated by the Ukrainian people.

”The International Legion always appreciates kind donations” says Ajay

Crowdfunding to We are asking for funds to help the International Legion for the territorial Defence Of Ukraine. ( on JustGiving

For more information about helping out in Ukraine you can email

Author profile

BA Journalism Mature Student at UUC.