‘I saw a lot and I felt a lot’: Conor Kennedy, grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, says he enlisted secretly to fight in Ukraine

“This war will shape the fate of democracy in this century.”

A picture taken on June 8, 2022 shows the insigna of the International Legion for the Defense of Ukraine on the jacket of LIDU's spokesman. Conor Kennedy revealed in October that he enlisted in the International Legion to fight in Ukraine. SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images

Conor Kennedy, the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, revealed recently that he secretly enlisted to fight in Ukraine, which has been battling against an invasion by Russia since late February, and has since returned.

Kennedy, the son of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and great-nephew of President John F. Kennedy, wrote on Instagram on Oct. 14 that he was “deeply moved” by what he saw happening in Ukraine and wanted to help. 

“When I heard about Ukraine’s International Legion, I knew I was going, and I went to the embassy to enlist the next day,” he said. “I told one person here where I was, and I told one person there my real name. I didn’t want my family or friends to worry, and I didn’t want to be treated differently there.” 


The 28-year-old said that prior to enlisting, he didn’t have any military experience and “wasn’t a great shot.”

But he said “could carry heavy things and learned fast.”

“I was also willing to die there,” he wrote. “So they soon agreed to send me to the northeastern front. My time in Ukraine wasn’t long but I saw a lot and I felt a lot. I liked being a soldier, more than I had expected. It is scary. But life is simple, and the rewards for finding courage and doing good are substantial.”

Kennedy wrote that his friends in Ukraine know why he had to come home, adding that he will “always owe them for their example.”

“This war, like all others, is horrific. The people I met were the bravest I have ever known. My fellow legionnaires — who came from different countries, backgrounds, ideologies — are true freedom fighters,” he said. “As are the citizens I knew, many of whom have lost everything in their long struggle against oligarchy, and toward a democratic system. They know this isn’t a war between equals, it’s a revolution.


“This war will shape the fate of democracy in this century,” he added. 

The 28-year-old concluded his post by urging people to help Ukraine within their own “personal” capacities, through helping on the border, sending medical supplies, or joining to fight like he did. 

“Every day, someone there sacrifices everything for a lasting peace,” he said. “They can’t be asked to act alone.”


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