Dutch-Italian man who died in Kharkiv thought Russian invasion was a “great injustice”

The mother of 27-year-old Benjamin Giorgio Galli, who died fighting for the International Legion of Ukraine, said her son joined the military effort simply because he felt Russia’s actions there were morally unjustifiable. Galli, from Winterswijk, Gelderland, died on Sunday six days after being wounded in a bomb attack, his mother Mirjam told AD.

Galli was on a mission in a village near Kharkiv when a bomb went off on September 12. The Dutchman was hit by several shrapnel and taken to a hospital. His parents tried to get to Kyiv from the Netherlands. As she was on a bus to Ukraine with her Italian husband, they received a phone call that Galli had died.

“He didn’t go there to be the hero, nor to play war. He went there because he felt it was a great injustice that Russia had invaded Ukraine. He wanted to help people get their land back,” Mirjam told the newspaper.

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He was working for a logistics company in Winterswijk when the Russian invasion intensified in February. Always interested in military history, Galli quickly made the decision to travel to Ukraine. He spoke at length with his family for four days, but finally decided to head towards Poland’s border with Ukraine with nothing but a backpack, some clothes and some money.

Galli was assigned to the First International Legion I on March 3rd. He called whenever he could, even when they were under heavy fire, but also when he received a letter of introduction from his commander. “We are very grateful to you for supporting the Ukrainians in the fight against the Russian aggressor,” wrote Bogdan Molchanov.

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His mother spoke to Galli the day before he was injured, and he described how he restored power to people’s homes, cleared debris and installed sanitation systems. “He was not only there to fight, but also to do something really useful for the Ukrainians.”

It would be the last conversation she would have with her son. “We went [for Kyiv] with the thought that we would see him again after months. We had hoped that he would still recover, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case,” Mirjam told AD.

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“Of course I would have liked to see him married, have children and maybe grandchildren. But that was his purpose in life. I know it was real and that he was happy. He told us he would be at peace when he died. I have to accept that.”

The ramifications of Galli’s death did not escape the notice of Winterswijk Mayor Joris Bengevoord. “Every casualty in this war is one too many. It is very sad that this happened. We feel with the family.”

His Dutch mother and Italian father are now trying to make arrangements to bring his body from Kyiv to the Netherlands first. From there, they hope to eventually bury him in their family cemetery in Italy.

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