A number of British soldiers have gone AWOL and may have traveled 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 traveled to Ukraine in a personal capacity.
“We are actively and strongly encouraging them to return to the UK.
“All Personnel Service are prohibited from traveling to Ukraine until further notice.
“This applies whether the Service Person is on leave or not. Personnel traveling 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 offenses 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 the UK is ‘at peace’ with.
- As of 11 February, 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 traveling 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 offense, even if they joined the rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad.
Live updates from Ukraine war
Earlier, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told the Commons: “The government position is if you are serving as a 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.
“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 not going to Ukraine, we strongly discourage them from joining these forces.
“My experience from having been security minister is people who went off to join the YPG and other organizations: 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.
“I think we’ve already seen some people at the borders find that may not be the right option to follow.”
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