Conor Kennedy, grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, says he fought in Ukraine

Conor Kennedy, grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, says he fought in Ukraine

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Conor Kennedy, the grandson of former U.S. Senator and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, revealed on Instagram that he secretly enlisted to fight in Ukraine. According to Kennedy’s post, he is now home after fighting with Ukraine’s International Legion.

The 28-year-old posted an image on Instagram, apparently showing himself in a Ukrainian military uniform. In the caption, Kennedy says he was “deeply moved by what I saw happening in Ukraine over the past year.”

CBS News has not independently verified Kennedy’s claims. CBS News has reached out to the legion, Military Defense of Ukraine and Kennedy for comment and is awaiting response.

“I told one person here [in the U.S.] where I was, and I told one person there [in Ukraine] my real name,” he said. “I didn’t want my family or friends to worry, and I didn’t want to be treated differently there.”

He said he had no prior military experience “and wasn’t a great shot,” but he “could carry heavy things and learned fast.”

“I was also willing to die there,” he writes. “So they soon agreed to send me to the northeastern front.” Kennedy said his time in Ukraine was short and he liked being a soldier more than he expected. 

HBO's
Conor Kennedy attends HBO’s “Ethel” New York Premiere at Time Warner Center on October 15, 2012 in New York City.

Jason Kempin / Getty Images


Anyone with “a strong will to defend world peace” can join the legion, which enlists troops from around the world to help fight for Ukraine. Those who wish to enlist can contact the Ukrainian Embassy in their country and interview for the role. 

The war in Ukraine began in February, when Russian President Vladimir Putin began an unprovoked attack on the country. Russia launched new airstrikes this week, insisting it is only targeting power installations. Russia has hammered Ukraine’s energy and water supplies, and as power cuts spread through the country, civilians are being urged to ration power. Civilians are also being killed daily by “suicide drones,” launched by Russia along with its missiles.

Last month, the Biden administration announced it will send another $600 million in military aid to Ukraine. This week, U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. will continue to support Ukraine “as best as we can,” but reiterated that the U.S. will not put troops on the ground in Ukraine. The U.S. is leading and coordinating international efforts to get additional weapons and capabilities to the country, Kirby said.

In his post, Kennedy said his friends in Ukraine knew why he had to come home. “l’ll always owe them for their example. I know I’m lucky I made it back, but I would also take all the risks we took over again,” he said.

He called the war horrific and praised the brave people he met. He encouraged others to join the legion or help in other ways, like sending medical supplies. 

Kennedy is the son of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his first wife Mary Richardson Kennedy. He made headlines for dating Taylor Swift in 2012. His grandfather was assassinated in 1968 while running for president, and his great-uncle, President John F. Kennedy Jr., was assassinated in 1963 while in office.

His Instagram post was quickly filled with supportive comments. “Conor. Oh Conor,” his stepmother, actress Cheryl Hines, wrote, including a string of heart emojis.

“I love you big brother,” his sister, Kyra Kennedy wrote.

“You are the bravest man I’ve ever known, my love,” his girlfriend, singer Giulia, wrote. “Being away from you and worrying for all those months was incredibly hard, but we kept our faith all the way through, and I just want to tell you once more how proud I am.”

Caitlin O’Kane


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Caitlin O’Kane is a digital content producer covering trending stories for CBS News and its good news brand, The Uplift.

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