'It's chaos': Ex-British soldier sends despatch from Ukraine conflict

‘We’ve lost a couple of guys today…It’s chaos’: Ex-British soldier sends dispatch from front line of fight against Putin’s invaders – as Lads Army volunteers continue to sign up for war in Ukraine

  • Shaun Pinner, 48, is fighting as a ‘contract soldier’ for Ukraine against Russia
  • Ex-infantryman Shaun, formerly of Royal Anglian Regiment, says it is ‘chaos’
  • Mr Pinner is one of a number of British people volunteering to fight for Ukraine
  • Groups of men, some untrained in war, offered their help at embassy in London
  • Do you know a British person fighting or going to fight in Ukraine?: Contact me: [email protected] 

A former British soldier fighting alongside Ukrainians in their war with Russia has given a hard-hitting despatch from near the front line, describing the situation as ‘chaos’.

Ex-infantryman Shaun Pinner, who is fighting as a ‘contract soldier’ alongside the Ukrainian armed forces, says he has endured a ‘week of intense fighting’. 

The 48-year-old, who previously served in the Royal Anglian Regiment, also confirms a number of his squad have died saying: ‘We’ve lost a couple of guys today’.

Mr Pinner filmed the despatch two days ago as Vladimir Putin’s men laid siege to Kyiv and other major Ukranian cities. In the video he does not reveal his location for security reasons.

 ‘I can’t tell you where we are, because of op sec (operations security),’ he says.

‘But this is a school that the Russians have just bombed. It’s about 7km off the frontline. We’re just taking a bit of respite, we’ve just had a week of intense fighting.

‘We’ve lost a couple of guys today. It’s chaos to be honest. This was a thriving little town. Until obviously the Red Army decided to show up.

‘So we are till ongoing, we’re putting up a resistance. Thanks for all the support you’ve given us.’ 

Ex-infantryman Shaun Pinner is seen in the video describing the situation as ‘chaos’ and confirming his squad had lost fighters

The 48-year-old, who previously served in the Royal Anglian Regiment, filmed the dispatch two days ago as Vladimir Putin’s men laid siege to Kyiv and other major cities

It comes as yesterday men were seen gathering outside the Ukrainian embassy in west London to answer Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky call to arms for foreign fighters to join his country’s defence against Russia. 

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss appeared to encourage Britons saying she would ‘absolutely support’ those who wished to sign up to fight as part of the Ukrainian armed forces.

Do you know someone going to fight in Ukraine? 

Email: [email protected]

But lawyers later warned that Britons who fight in Ukraine could be prosecuted under UK terror laws – much like those who took arms for Kurdish militia forces against ISIS in Syria.

Yesterday Prime Minister Boris Johnson waded into the debate, warning members of the so-called ‘Lads Army’ that they could be breaking British law by going over to Ukraine to fight.

Giving a speech in Estonia, Mr Johnson said: ‘I can understand why people feel as they do but we have laws in our country about international conflicts and how they should be conducted.’ 

Asked if, in the wake of Ms Truss’s comments, that the Government was encouraging Britons to fight, he replied: ‘The UK is not actively doing any such thing.’

Yesterday a London banker became the latest to arrive at the Ukrainian embassy in London to volunteer to fight against Russia. 

Sam Ottaway, 38, works at a bank in the City and has no combat experience, but volunteered in his lunch break.

Mr Ottaway, who described British writer George Orwell as one of his heroes and an inspiration for his decision to join the fight, said: ‘It’s the right thing to do, can’t see that happen. History has taught us that this stuff doesn’t just stop does it?’  

Gym owner Leon Dawson, 37, earlier this week told reporters he was prepared to lose his life fighting to defend Ukraine as a volunteer in the country’s newly formed Foreign Legion. 

British ‘Lads Army’ volunteers eager to take on Vladimir Putin’s Russian forces could be prosecuted under UK law if they go out to fight in Ukraine, Boris Johnson (pictured) has hinted today.

Leon Dawson, 37, is seen telling journalists he is prepared to lose his life fighting to defend Ukraine as a volunteer in the country’s newly announced foreign legion

Standing outside the Ukrainian embassy in west London with other would-be-fighters, including his friend Tom Konarzewski (pictured left), he tells reporters from Sky News: ‘We’re young, strong, fit men and we can help, so why not?

Brian Grove, a 60-year-old former Territorial Army (TA) member from Kent, told reporters he had ‘decided to do something’ to help under siege Ukrainians

Mr Dawson and Mr Konarzewski were mong a number of people seen outside the Ukrainian embassy yesterday responding to calls by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky for foreign fighters to join their defence against Russia. Pictured: Governor Dmitry Zhivitsky posts photos of damage done by Russia to Okhtyrka

Standing outside the Ukrainian embassy with other would-be-fighters, including his friend Tom Konarzewski, who is originally from Poland and who runs a dog care business, he told reporters from Sky News:  ‘We’re young, strong, fit men and we can help, so why not?’

‘We don’t want to die. We’re obviously scared. But if we’re scared, we can imagine how the innocent women and children feel. I can’t sit here and just let that happen.’

The ‘Lads Army’ volunteering to fight in Ukraine 

Leon Dawson

A 37-year-old gym boss from Surrey, Leon Dawson has no prior military experience.

But speaking outside the Ukrainian embassy in London yesterday, where he volunteered for the country’s newly established foreign legion, he said: ‘We’re young, strong, fit men and we can help, so why not?’

Leon runs The Physique Warehouse Gym in Moseley, on the outskirts of west London. 

Tom Konarzewski

Originally from Poland, and friends with Leon Dawson, Tom Konarzewski runs a dog care business in Surrey.

His business is called Walk-Me. Founded in 2007, it is a dog-walking business aimed at high-flying professionals. It also offers daycare and overnight services. 

On signing up to join Ukrain’s Foreign Legion, he said: ‘

‘What we’ve seen on the TV, in my opinion, is wrong,’ he said.

‘We’d like to get over there as soon as possible.’

Brian Grove

Brian Grove is a 60-year-old former Territorial Army (TA) member from Kent.

He told Sky News reporters he had ‘decided to do something’ to help under siege Ukrainians. 

 ‘I used to be in the TA, I’ve also got a lot of first aid training so I’ve decided to come and do something,’ he said.

Asked if he’s prepared to fight, Mr Grove, from Sittingbourne in Kent, replies: ‘Yes, I can get on a flight tomorrow.’ 

Roger Conway

The 34-year-old from Newcastle went to the Ukrainian Embassy, where he collected an email address to volunteer his services, that he immediately wrote.

Speaking to the PA news agency near the embassy in West London, he said: ‘We’ve convinced ourselves that we’re stepping in and we’re helping by having Facebook photos and tweeting solidarity but it doesn’t really make a difference to anyone.

‘Solidarity doesn’t look real if you don’t do anything’.

Mr Conway, who works as a contractor in finance, said he had never been in the army.

‘I’ve never been in but I’ve not got kids, I’m 34, feel fit’.

Asked if he was scared, he said: ‘Possibly a little but that’s no reason not to do anything in life. I’m ready, I think’.

Sam Ottaway

Sam Ottaway, 38, works at a bank in the City and has no combat experience, but came down to volunteer in his lunch break.

Sam said: ‘It’s the right thing to do, can’t see that happen. History has taught us that this stuff doesn’t just stop does it?

‘George Orwell is one of my heroes. Homage to Catalonia.

‘People have done this before in history, volunteering for good causes. And if this isn’t a good cause, I don’t know what is.’ 

Jason Luck

Jason Luck has family in Mykolaiv, a city near the Black Sea in southern Ukraine.

He served for 12 years in the British Army and feels he has something to offer in the fight. He is due to fly out on Wednesday. 

Jason said: ‘My family are in Ukraine. Fighting isn’t my priority. My family is my priority. I live in Surrey but go back and forwards. First it was the pandemic, now this idiot [Putin].’

Shaun Pinner

 

A 48-year-old ex-soldier with a Ukrainian wife. He is already on the front lines.

He is married to a Ukrainian woman and has been in Donbas for the past four years.

Mr Pinner previously served in the Royal Anglian Regiment and said he fought with the Ukrainian army as a ‘contract soldier’.

Mr Pinner’s sister Cassandra, who is a nurse in Bedfordshire, said: ‘He’s fighting as we speak, although I probably shouldn’t disclose where’.

‘He’s going in now, [I] sent a final message just in case.’

Liam Hawkins

A 30-year-old father with no military experience. He drove to the Ukrainian embassy from Deptford, south-east London, to sign up to help refugees stuck at the border in a humanitarian capacity. 

‘I haven’t slept since this invasion and I just can’t stay at home with my babies and my missus and do nothing.

‘I know it’s dangerous, people are trying to talk me out of it, but I believe I can make a difference.’

Matthew Green

A 47-year-old from London, who retired as a Staff Sergeant six months ago.

He said: ‘I want to fight for diplomacy.

‘I think the British military are stuck and I’m sure we would send our men if we could. It’s the perfect timing for me as I was discharged six months ago.

‘I have no connection with Ukraine or Russia, but I want to do my part.’

Alex Pickett

A 32-year-old from Andover, Hants, who works in private security.

He said: ‘I will do whatever I can in whatever way I can.

‘I’m just slowly getting my affairs in order so that I can go when they tell me. I’m non-military, but I’m an Englishman.

‘I’m a free man who is fighting for a free world and is willing to do his part.

‘All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.’

Antony Zamparelli

 

A father-of-seven who served in the Army but has never been in a conflict.

Mr Zamparelli told GB News he was willing to die for the Ukrainian cause and urged other Brits to ‘go to Ukraine if you’re willing to fight for freedom’. 

Akos Horvadh

A 28-year-old Hungarian man living in the UK.

He says he is nervous about telling his parents but is adamant about going to fight.

Akos said: ‘I’m Hungarian. Ukraine is my neighbour. I can’t stand to see what goes on there.

‘As I see it, what they really need is people to go there and fight. I have a little experience. I know how to use a gun.

‘If I go there there is a chance I could die. But that’s the truth of war. I could die, lose my limbs, I’m aware. But someone needs to go.’

Douglas Lambourne

Douglas Lambourne is a 25-year-old from west London.

He said: ‘My mum’s Polish and I’ve got family out in Ukraine. I’m 25 and sitting at home, and my time is better spent going over there doing what’s right.’

Asked if his family were aware, Mr Dawson, who has no military experience, said: ‘My family are upset. Obviously it is a hard time.’  

Among those attending the Ukrainian embassy earlier this week was Brian Grove, a 60-year-old former Territorial Army (TA) member from Kent. He told Sky News reporters he had ‘decided to do something’ to help under siege Ukrainians. 

 ‘I used to be in the TA, I’ve also got a lot of first aid training so I’ve decided to come and do something,’ he said.

Asked if he’s prepared to fight, Mr Grove replies: ‘Yes, I can get on a flight tomorrow.’ 

Others to arrive at the embassy to volunteer included Akos Horvadh. The 28-year-old says he is nervous about telling his parents but is adamant about going to fight.

Akos said: ‘I’m Hungarian. Ukraine is my neighbour. I can’t stand to see what goes on there.

‘As I see it, what they really need is people to go there and fight. I have a little experience. I know how to use a gun.

‘If I go there there is a chance I could die. But that’s the truth of war. I could die, lose my limbs, I’m aware. But someone needs to go.’

Though many who have arrived at the embassy have no previous combat experience, one man to volunteer, Jason Luck, does. 

Jason Luck, who has family in Mykolaiv, a city near the Black Sea in southern Ukraine, served for 12 years in the British Army. He is due to fly out on Wednesday. 

He said: ‘My family are in Ukraine. They’re in the east of the country. I’ve got my partner, her boy, my daughter. 

‘Fighting isn’t my priority. My family is my priority. I live in Surrey but go back and forwards. First it was the pandemic, now this idiot [Putin].’

Jason, who is in his late 40s, refused the offer from Ukrainian authorities to pay for his flights. 

‘I’m going out Wednesday. I need to. I’m really worried.  I’ve got a twisted feeling in my stomach,’ he said. 

‘I want to go out there to protect my city. I don’t want to end up in Kyiv. I want to be near my family. That’s why I’m here.

‘I don’t want to join Ukrainian regular forces. This is why I’m here to explain to them. I’m happy to fight but I want to be there for my family.’

Matthew Green, 47, from London, who retired as a Staff Sergeant six months ago, said: ‘I want to fight for diplomacy.

‘I think the British military are stuck and I’m sure we would send our men if we could. It’s the perfect timing for me as I was discharged six months ago.

‘I have no connection with Ukraine or Russia, but I want to do my part.

Alex Pickett, 32, from Andover, Hants, who works in private security, said: ‘I will do whatever I can in whatever way I can.

‘I’m just slowly getting my affairs in order so that I can go when they tell me. I’m non-military, but I’m an Englishman.

‘I’m a free man who is fighting for a free world and is willing to do his part.

‘All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.

‘I’m just a normal Englishman, I’ve got a basic firearm skill and I’m reasonably fit.

‘My heart is in the right place and that is the only reason why I’m doing this.’ 

If the ‘Lads’ Army’ are given the green light to fight in Ukraine, they will be joined by more than 150 British ex-paratroopers who fought in Afghanistan are now on their way to Ukraine to battle Putin’s forces.

Dozens of former Special Forces soldiers from Britain are also said to be heading out there to fight for Ukraine, including a crack team of retired SAS fighters who are on their way to join the war on the side of the Ukrainians. 

Ukrainian expats living in Britain are also heading back to their home country to fight against Putin’s invaders.

Meanwhile, military supply stores in the UK are said to be kitting out volunteers –  with some even offering 50 per cent discounts for those heading out to Ukraine. 

Yesterday, as the fighting raged on in cities such as Kyiv and Kharkiv, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and a No 10 spokesman both appeared to contradict Liz Truss, who gave her backing to Britons who wanted to join the resistance movement.

In a surprising comment, the Foreign Secretary said she ‘won’t oppose’ British nationals who travel to Ukraine to fight the Russian invasion.

But Mr Wallace urged Britons not to join the fighting, particularly those without military experience, saying that the ‘very dangerous’ situation could lead to them being killed.

The comments came as a former defence minister today said the Government should issue clear advice that Britons should not go to Ukraine to fight. 

The British Army meanwhile are warning UK soldiers ‘on or off leave’ not to take up arms against Russia over fears that the sight of British insignias could spark a major escalation in the conflict.  

Hundreds of troops have expressed interest in answering a request from Kyiv for international volunteers, it is believed, but commanders have told them not to sign up.

They cannot stop retired personnel from travelling to eastern Europe, but full-time and reserve troops have received a stern warning not to take part in the conflict.

One brigadier said he heard talk that some soldiers were considering going Awol to join the fight, The Times reports.

But a post on the Army’s internal messaging service read: ‘There has been some recent media coverage relating to foreigners being welcomed into Ukraine to help fight against Russia.

‘To be clear, as members of the British Army, you are not authorised to travel to Ukraine to support the ongoing conflict against Russia in any form, whether you are on leave or not.

‘Please remain professional and focused on your duty and your team.’

Despite the warning, a military source has said that 150 of former paratroopers were on their way to Poland.

Shane, 34, a former sniper with the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, said Ms Truss’ comments on Sunday were ‘the green light’

Ukraine’s president Volodomyr Zelensky said he was forming his country’s own foreign legion to fight Russia.

Several thousand people have volunteered to join the force, deputy defence minister Hanna Malyar said.

Among them are reportedly a group of SAS veterans eager to defend Ukraine.  

According to The Mirror, the retired UK special forces soldiers have volunteered for missions deep inside Ukraine to back up the country’s defence. 

The veterans, aged between 40 and 60, have had meetings to discuss signing up for the dangerous mission, backing up Ukrainians in combat.

Key to their operation is among them there are highly-trained snipers and experts in the use of anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles. 

It comes as lawyers warned that Britons leaving to fight in Ukraine could face legal action on their return under UK terror laws. 

However they said prosecutions would likely be a ‘non-starter’ – pointing to those who avoided legal action for fighting against for Kurdish militias against ISIS. 

Under the UK’s Terrorism Act 2000, terrorism is described as the use or threat of violence, to influence a government or the public, ‘for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause’. 

Jonathan Hall QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, said fighting in Ukraine would be captured by the definition.

He told The Independent: ‘Russia’s aggression against the international legal order, and the importance of supporting Ukraine, makes any support for foreign fighters who want to travel to Ukraine at first glance attractive. 

‘Given the government’s apparent support, prosecution of foreign fighters against Russia under terrorism legislation appears to be a non-starter even if the broad statutory definition of terrorism is satisfied in these cases. 

‘But there is always the possibility of less desirable cases at the edges – individuals who travel to Ukraine under false pretence either to support Russia or fight with an ideological group such as the [neo-Nazi] Azov battalion.’

British authorities have previously tried to prosecute British fighters who took up arms against ISIS in Syria.

Ex-paratrooper Daniel Burke originally fought against ISIS with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) between late 2017 and June 2018.

No action was taken at the time. But he was later prosecuted for ‘preparing acts of terrorism’ after allegedly attempting to return to support the YPG against an invasion by Turkish-led forces in 2019.


Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (pictured left) said he didn’t ‘want to see British people killed any more than I want to see Ukrainians’ and asked people who were not properly trained or an ‘experienced member of an armed forced’ not to join the war in Ukraine. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (pictured right) said the UK will back Britons going to fight in Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that Ukraine faces a ‘crucial’ 24 hours as Russia throws even more ground forces at Kyiv

More than 150 former British paratroopers who fought in Afghanistan are now on their way to Ukraine to battle Putin’s forces 

More than 150 British ex paratroopers who fought in Afghanistan are now on their way to Ukraine to battle Putin’s forces – after Army chiefs banned serving UK soldiers from the warzone.

Whitehall officials are scrambling to determine the Government’s policy after Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she would support British nationals who chose to fight alongside Ukrainian forces against the Russian invasion on Sunday.

Her comments went against Foreign Office travel advice, while Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and a No 10 spokesman also both appeared to contradict Ms Truss yesterday.

Hundreds of troops have expressed interest in answering a request from Kyiv for international volunteers, it is believed, but commanders have told them not to sign up.

They cannot stop retired personnel from travelling to eastern Europe, but full-time and reserve troops have received a stern warning not to take part in the conflict.

One brigadier said he heard talk that some soldiers were considering going Awol to join the fight, The Times reports.

But a post on the Army’s internal messaging service read: ‘There has been some recent media coverage relating to foreigners being welcomed into Ukraine to help fight against Russia.

‘To be clear, as members of the British Army, you are not authorised to travel to Ukraine to support the ongoing conflict against Russia in any form, whether you are on leave or not.

‘Please remain professional and focused on your duty and your team.’

Despite this, a military source has said that 150 of former paratroopers were on their way to Poland.

Shane, 34, a former sniper with the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, said Ms Truss’ comments on Sunday were ‘the green light’

Ukraine’s president Volodomyr Zelensky said he was forming his country’s own foreign legion to fight Russia.

Several thousand people have volunteered to join the force, deputy defence minister Hanna Malyar said yesterday.

However the charges were later dropped against Burke and two other men following a review by the Crown Prosecution Service. 

Yesterday Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and a No 10 spokesman both appeared to contradict Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who yesterday gave her backing to Britons who wanted to join the resistance movement. 

Mr Wallace said he didn’t ‘want to see British people killed any more than I want to see Ukrainians’ and asked people who were not properly trained or an ‘experienced member of an armed forced’ not to join the war in Ukraine.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine was ‘very dangerous’, Mr Wallace told Sky News, and there were ‘better ways’ to support the country.  

Asked if the Prime Minister supported Ms Truss’s remarks, a No 10 spokesman said yesterday the travel advice was not to go to Ukraine. 

He added: ‘We think the best way of helping now is ensuring Putin fails.’ 

As the debate continued, today former defence minister Kevan Jones told MailOnline that the Government needs to issue clear advice that Britons should not go to Ukraine to fight. 

The Labour MP flagged the risk that people could either get captured by Russian forces, or hamper the Ukrainian resistance because they are not properly trained.

‘Following the Foreign Secretary’s comments the government needs urgently to clarify the position,’ he said. 

‘Not only in terms of the legal position but also whether it could endanger the individuals and hamper the resistance rather than help it – no matter how well intentioned.’

Meanwhile, one British military store is reportedly giving discounts to Britons wishing to join Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

Damon Warren, a 52-year-old ex-soldier who owns Folkestone’s G4 Echelon Military Supplies in Kent, is said to be giving 50 per cent discount to both Ukrainians and any British veterans seeking to help them. 

However Mr Warren said he had been turning away Britons who were not veterans because those with neither military experience nor the ability to speak Ukrainian would be ‘more of a liability than a help’.

One person visiting his store yesterday was Andrew Lester, a 25-year-old electrician from Kent who served in the Parachute Regiment till last July.

He told the Telegraph: ‘The Ukrainians are really doing quite well, I think.

‘They’re holding out. If they need a few more blokes to push them back, then that’s what we’re here for.’ 

Yesterday, as the fighting raged on, nine Ukrainians left England heading off to war in three equipment-laden SUVs. 

They left from Kensington’s Ukrainian Social Club, where Britons had been appearing throughout the day to volunteer to fight against Putin.

The cars were laden with body armour, rucksacks and piles of Boots bags packed with bandages, nappies, medicine and toothbrushes.

Yesterday nine Ukrainians left England heading off to war in three equipment-laden SUVs

They left from Kensington’s Ukrainian Social Club, where Britons had been appearing throughout the day to volunteer to fight against Putin

The cars were laden with body armour, rucksacks and piles of Boots bags packed with bandages, nappies, medicine and toothbrushes

A British teacher has vowed to take up arms and defend his wife’s Ukrainian home city from Vladimir Putin’s Russian army after travelling more than 500-mile to be with her and their toddler son. 

Ian Umney, 28, only reunited with wife Nelia, 26, and two-year-old Jonathan yesterday after quitting his job and making a 48-hour journey from Manchester to the southern Ukrainian city of Nikopol.

Currently the city is in relative safety, tucked away on the northern side of the winding Dneiper River and more than 100 miles from intense fighting in nearby southern cities such as Melitpol.

But with Russian military officials today claiming control of Kherson, a key crossing point of the Dneiper and just 120miles to the south-west of Nikopol, his wife’s home city could soon come under seige. 

Despite the threat of a Russian attack, Mr Umney, from St Helens, Merseyside, insists he will remain in the city and fight if his Ukrainian wife wishes to stay.

If Mr Umney does fight, he will be among dozens of Britons – dubbed the ‘Lads’ Army’ – who have already volunteered to join the Ukrainian resistance. 

‘One hundred per cent, I would bear arms and fight the Russians,’ he said.

‘I think Nelia will want to stay in Nikopol. If she wants to stay, then I will arm myself and defend her city.’

One – called Vladimir – 44, said: ‘I am going to fight for Ukraine, to protect Ukraine, to defend Ukraine.’

Another in their party, a Russian called Denis, 33, who worked with the fighters, was helping to ferry equipment to Ukraine.

He said: ‘They have families here, they know what they have to do. They are just going to their home. If they support it they will fight.

‘They just want to go to their home and help their families. They just want to go to their home.’

He said he would stop at the border and not fight, but would help them take equipment across.

Cars carried provisions alongside helmets, sleeping mats, armoured vests and binoculars.

Angela, 47, said: ‘I don’t know if I will fight but I will try to help the innocents.

‘It’s very important. When you see people who die you think we can help here with the money from England, but we don’t have the people.’

In a touching scene, they were helped by 28 year old engineer Harry Wright from Dagenham, east London, before he volunteered himself.

Father-of-two Harry, who has three-and-four-year old girls, said: ‘I want to stop it from spreading. Stop letting Putin get that power.’

Jimmy Butt, a forklift driver from Wolverhampton, has relatives who are ‘cut off’ in Ukraine.

He said: ‘My friends are not really taking me seriously with it. Think I’m blowing off steam.

‘I want to try and do something worthwhile, something beyond myself while I’m still able to do it.

‘This is bigger than anything. I’m willing to sacrifice for something I see as greater.’

As their passports were checked and the Ukrainians tried to force more equipment into the boots of their cars, onlookers said it felt like a First World War spirit as they watched them go off to war.

They are getting a ferry and then driving across Europe to the Polish border. 

Lawyer warns Britons could face prosecution under terror laws for joining Ukraine’s fight against Russia – but says legal action is likely a ‘non-starter’

Lawyers have warnet Britons leaving to fight in Ukraine that they could face legal action on their return under terror laws. 

However they say prosecutions would likely be a ‘non-starter’ – pointing to those who avoided legal action for fighting against for Kurdish militias against ISIS. 

Under the UK’s Terrorism Act 2000, terrorism is described as the use or threat of violence, to influence a government or the public, ‘for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause’. 

Jonathan Hall QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, said fighting in Ukraine would be captured by the definition.

He told The Independent: ‘Russia’s aggression against the international legal order, and the importance of supporting Ukraine, makes any support for foreign fighters who want to travel to Ukraine at first glance attractive. 

‘Given the government’s apparent support, prosecution of foreign fighters against Russia under terrorism legislation appears to be a non-starter even if the broad statutory definition of terrorism is satisfied in these cases.

‘But there is always the possibility of less desirable cases at the edges – individuals who travel to Ukraine under false pretence either to support Russia or fight with an ideological group such as the [neo-Nazi] Azov battalion.’

British authorities have previously tried to prosecute British fighters who took up arms against ISIS in Syria.

Ex-paratrooper Daniel Burke originally fought against ISIS with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) between late 2017 and June 2018.

No action was taken at the time. But he was later prosecuted for ‘preparing acts of terrorism’ after allegedly attempting to return to support the YPG against an invasion by Turkish-led forces in 2019.

However the charges were later dropped against Burke and two other men following a review by the Crown Prosecution Service. 

He was one of a string of fighters to face unsuccessful prosecutions for fighting against ISIS. 

Almost all terror charges were dropped before trial or ended in acquittals. 

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