UK army says a 'number' of active servicemen AWOL in Ukraine

UK army says a 'number' of active servicemen AWOL in Ukraine
The UK has said that active soldiers who have travelled to fight in Ukraine will face legal proceedings on their return.
2 min read
10 March, 2022
Both active and former British soldiers are known to have travelled to Ukraine [Getty]

The British Army said on Wednesday that a number of active servicemen have travelled to join Ukrainian forces fighting Russia’s invasion.

An unnamed military spokesperson was quoted by Sky News as saying that the army was "aware of a small number of individual soldiers who have disobeyed orders and gone absent without leave and may have travelled to Ukraine in a personal capacity".

"We are actively and strongly encouraging them to return to the UK," the official said.

This follows UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace's warning on Wednesday that serving soldiers who travelled to the war zone would face a court-martial back home.

Live Story

Wallace also cautioned those thinking of making the trip to Ukraine that they would not just be there for  "a selfie and six weeks", but faced a real war zone.

Along with active servicemen, it has also been reported that former soldiers have travelled to Ukraine to join the country's efforts to repel Russia’s invasion.

Last week, Chief Admiral Sir Tony Radakin warned that "it's unlawful as well as unhelpful for the UK military and for the UK population to start going towards Ukraine".

These remarks seem to contradict Foreign Secretary Liz Truss's comments that she would "absolutely" support those wishing to join the war.

Military officials have warned that the presence of British citizens on the frontlines could drag the UK into the conflict, which it has so far approached with caution.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has joined leaders of other NATO member states in ruling out a no-fly zone over Ukraine, despite pleas from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

NATO leaders have said imposing a no-fly zone could draw the military alliance into open conflict with Russia. 

The UK has, however, provided both lethal and non-lethal aid to Ukraine, while also imposing sanctions on individuals linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.