MELODIC Colombian Spanish fills a hospital treating soldiers wounded fighting Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine's ranks are depleted by two years of war. As it battles the Russian war machine, Ukraine is welcoming hardened fighters from one of the world's longest-running conflicts.
Professional soldiers from Colombia bolster the ranks of volunteers from around the world who have answered Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's call for foreign fighters to join his nation's war with Russia.
A 32-year-old from the city of Medellín, who goes by the call sign Checho, was trying to save a colleague wounded in three days of heavy fighting with Russian forces. Russian drones attacked the group and shrapnel from a grenade dropped by one pierced his jawbone.
Colombia's military has been fighting drug-trafficking cartels and rebel groups for decades, making its soldiers some of the world's most experienced. With a military of 250,000,
Colombia has Latin America's second-largest army, after Brazil's. More than 10,000 retire each year. And hundreds are heading to fight in Ukraine, where many make four times as much as experienced non-commissioned officers earn in Colombia, or even more.
Retired Colombian soldiers began to head overseas in the early 2000s to work for U.S. military contractors protecting infrastructure including oil wells in Iraq.
Retired members of Colombia's military have also been hired as trainers in the United Arab Emirates and joined in Yemen's battle against Iran-backed Houthi rebels. / AP