The Lawfare Podcast


All About Legionnaires

An interesting subplot of the Russian invasion and subsequent war in Ukraine has been the rush of fighters from other countries to join the Ukrainian foreign legion and to fight as legionnaires on behalf of the Ukrainian government. The phenomenon of legionnaires is an interesting one that crops up all throughout history yet has remained relatively understudied. What role do legionnaires play in conflicts? How does their impact differ from that of typical soldiers? How can we distinguish them from contractors or mercenaries or other categories of fighters? And what can legionnaires tell us about the ways that states like to conduct international affairs and international conflict?

To talk through these issues, Jacob Schulz spoke with Elizabeth Grasmeder, a researcher and author of an international security article entitled “Leaning on Legionnaires: Why Modern States Recruit Foreign Soldiers.” They talked about the historical practice of use of legionnaires and what it can reveal about conflicts today. 

More Episodes


Rational Security: The “Small World After All” Edition

This week on Rational Security, Alan, Quinta, and Scott were joined by favorite guestLawfareexecutive editor Natalie Orpett to hash through the week's big nationalsecurity news stories, including:“Another One Bites the Dust.” This past weekend, an American drone strikesuccessfully killed yet another major terrorist leader—this time al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri—in downtown Kabul, while apparently avoiding any civilian casualties or significant collateral damage. What does the strike tell us about the Biden administration's counterterrorism strategy and the role it plays in his broader global agenda?“Maybe He Just Mixed Up His St. Petersburgs.” In Florida, the Justice Department hasindicted Russian agent Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionovfor engaging in an array of political activities on behalf of fringe political candidates and organizations, with the alleged goal of promoting political instability at the Russian government's behest. What light does this indictment shed on Russian interference in American politics?“The Bully Cockpit.” Over reported objections from the Biden administration, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi hasflown to Taiwan, making her the most senior U.S. official to visit the hotly contested island in more than two decades and raising China's ire at what many say is a sensitive moment. Is her trip helpful or foolhardy? And what does it tell us about Congress's role in U.S. foreign relations?