3 minute read
The Armed Forces Minister has warned British troops not to go free and fight in Ukraine because they risk seeing the UK wrongly seen as “a belligerent” in the war with Russia.
James Heappey said it was illegal for current service personnel to travel to Ukraine and warned those considering doing so that “nothing good comes from British servicemen or veterans traveling to Ukraine to to be a part of”.
Speaking on Sky News, he said ‘absent leave to fight in a foreign war is simply unacceptable and frankly risks the UK being wrongly claimed by Russia as a belligerent in this area’.
“Service people who might think they’re doing the right thing should reflect that it’s not 100% the right thing to do,” he added.
Heappey confirmed that a “very small number” of British troops have been to Ukraine so far, and issued a direct address to those still considering going.
“Now is not the time for people to go there, and the Ukrainians have made it clear that once you cross the border with the hope of fighting, you are there for good,” said Heppy.
“People who think they can go there, do a few weeks, take selfies, take pictures on Instagram and go home, that’s not how Ukrainians see people who are going to fight for them .
“Brits shouldn’t do it.”
“No good is coming from the British servicemen or veterans going to fight in Ukraine.”
James Heappey states that it is “illegal” for the military to go AWOL “but to go AWOL to fight in a foreign war is simply unacceptable”.https://t.co/X3flQUBL0r
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— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 10, 2022
The minister’s comments come after Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was criticized for saying she would support Britons who wanted to go and help Ukraine fight Vladimir Putin’s invasion.
Number 10 and Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace directly contradicted it and told people not to go, but there were many reports that those who wanted to get involved are now getting there.
This morning, an update from the Defense Ministry said Russian forces northwest of the Ukrainian capital have made “little progress” and “suffer continued casualties”.
They also reported a “noticeable decrease in overall Russian air activity” over the country, saying this was “likely due to the unexpected effectiveness and endurance” of Kyiv’s air defenses.
But yesterday Western officials warned that with the invasion slowing Putin would resort to more extreme measures, saying there was now a ‘serious concern’ that he could use chemical weapons.
Attacks on civilian targets have already increased, after at least 17 people, including a pregnant woman and doctors, were injured after a maternity ward in the town of Mariupol was shelled yesterday.
Deputy Mayor Sergei Orlov told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that the Russian military knew which building it was bombing.
“This is the third hospital they have destroyed in the city,” he said. “The day before, they destroyed hospital number nine with artillery fire. It was a 300 bed Covid hospital.
“They also attacked and destroyed a blood collection station in Mariupol. So this is the third hospital, I’m absolutely sure they know what their targets are.”
Heappey said he believed the incident constituted a war crime committed by Russia. “We wonder how this happened?” he told BBC Breakfast.
“Was it an indiscriminate use of artillery or missiles in a built-up area, or was a hospital explicitly targeted?
“Both are equally despicable, both, as the Ukrainians pointed out, would amount to a war crime.”
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