Robert Kennedy’s grandson announced on Instagram that he had just returned from fighting for Ukraine, having secretly enlisted to battle the Russian invasion as part of the country’s international fighting force. 

Conor Kennedy, the grandson of the former attorney general and presidential candidate, posted on his account earlier this month that he was “deeply moved” by what he saw was happening in Ukraine over the past year and wanted to help. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky established the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine shortly after Russia launched its full-scale invasion in late February. Kennedy said he went to the Ukrainian Embassy the day after he first heard about the group. 

“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. As are the citizens I knew, many of whom have lost everything in their long struggle against oligarchy, and toward a democratic system,” Kennedy said. 

He said he only told one person that he was in Ukraine — and he only told one person in the country his real name. He said he didn’t want his family and friends to worry about him, and he didn’t want to be treated any differently in Ukraine. 

Kennedy said he had no prior military experience and was not a “great shot” but could carry heavy things and learn quickly. He said he was also willing to die in Ukraine and was soon sent to the northeastern front, where Ukraine is currently conducting a counteroffensive to retake territory captured by Russian forces. 

“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,” he said. “But life is simple, and the rewards for finding courage and doing good are substantial.” 

Kennedy said he knows he is lucky to have made it back but would take the same risks again if he had to. 

He said the war will shape the fate of democracy in the 21st century, urging his followers to help in any way they can, through joining the legion, helping on the border or sending medical supplies.