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Ukraine war: British Army confirms ‘a number’ of soldiers have gone AWOL and may have travelled to fight Russia

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A number of British soldiers have gone AWOL and may have travelled to Ukraine, the Army has confirmed.

A spokesperson told Sky News: “We are 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.

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“All Service Personnel are prohibited from travelling to Ukraine until further notice.

“This applies whether the Service Person is on leave or not. Personnel travelling to Ukraine will face disciplinary and administrative consequences.”

Will Britons be prosecuted for going to Ukraine to fight Russian troops?

  • The Foreign Office has told Britons: “If you travel to Ukraine to fight, or to assist others engaged in the conflict, your activities may amount to offences against UK legislation and you could be prosecuted on your return to the UK.”
  • The Foreign Enlistment Act of 1870 bans Britons from fighting in the “military or naval service of any foreign state” that is at war with a country that the UK is “at peace” with.
  • As of February 11, the Foreign Office has advised Britons against all travel to the whole of Ukraine and has urged British nationals to leave the war-torn country.
  • The British Army has said all service personnel are banned from travelling to Ukraine.
  • The Metropolitan Police have reportedly warned officers they will face disciplinary action if they travel to Ukraine to help fight the invading Russian army.
  • There have been questions about the legality of Britons going abroad to fight in previous foreign conflicts.
  • In 2014, the Crown Prosecution Service warned that UK nationals who went to fight in the Syrian civil war could be committing an offence, even if they joined the rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad.

Earlier Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the Commons: “The Government position is if you are serving member of the armed forces you will be breaking the law.

“There were reports in a weekend newspaper about three members who had gone AWOL over the weekend.

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“They will be breaking the law and they will be prosecuted when they return for going absent without leave or deserting.

“For others, as the government travel advice is don’t go to Ukraine, we strongly discourage them from joining these forces.

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Meet Brit travelling to fight Russia

“My experience from having been security minister is people who went off to join the YPG and other organisations: it didn’t end well.

“It is also the case that, as a number are now discovering, the Ukrainians are very clear: you turn up, you are in it for the whole game. You are not in it for a selfie and six weeks, you are in it for real.

Read more: Brit who volunteered to fight against Russia turned down and told he would be ‘a liability’

“I think we have seen already some people at the borders find that may not be the right option to follow.”

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