UK foreign secretary 'absolutely supports' Britons going to fight in Ukraine

UK foreign secretary 'absolutely supports' Britons going to fight in Ukraine
In a change in rhetoric to how the UK government viewed volunteer fighters in the Syrian conflict, the Foreign Secretary spoke to the BBC in support of UK citizens fighting alongside Ukrainian forces.
2 min read
27 February, 2022
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss with her Ukrainian counterpart in recent diplomatic visit [Getty]

UK's foreign secretary has voiced her support for Britons wanting to go to Ukraine to fight, in comments made in an interview with BBC’s Sunday Morning. 

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, tipped as a possible future leader of the Conservative party, said she would support UK citizens taking the decision to volunteer in defence of Ukrainian sovereignty but continued to rule out sending UK troops into Ukraine.

Referring to UK citizens joining volunteer forces in the country, Truss said "Absolutely if people want to support that struggle, I would support them doing that".

"The people of Ukraine are fighting for freedom and democracy - not just for Ukraine, but for the whole of Europe because that is what president Putin is challenging," said Truss.

The rhetoric forms a stark difference to the UK's Foreign Office stance on Britons joining Syrian Kurdish forces in 2016.

At the time, volunteer troops were merely referred to UK travel guidance and advised to leave Syria by any practical means. 

In May 2019, UK citizens were told they had just 28 days to leave northern Syria or risk up to 10 years in prison on terrorism charges upon re-entry to the UK - regardless of whether they were fighting or engaging in humanitarian aid work. 

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Truss’ remarks on Sunday came after a week of stark warnings by UK officials forecasting a protracted, bloody conflict in Ukraine, involving increasingly deadly weapons.

"I fear this will be a long haul, this could be a number of years," Truss told Sky News early on Sunday.

"Russia have strong forces and we know the Ukrainians are brave, they are determined to stand up for their sovereignty and territorial integrity and they are determined to fight," she added.