UK's armed forces chief says Britons should not go to fight in Ukraine

Dozens of people in the UK have already signed up to join an “international legion" of fighters formed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

A 61-year-old man who said his name is Ian and he is from a town near Liverpool in the UK prepares to enter Ukraine to join the fight against the Russian army at the Medyka border crossing in Poland. British officials are urging citizens not to go to Ukraine. Getty Images
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It is "unlawful and unhelpful" for British citizens to go and fight in Ukraine, a senior UK military official has said.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, Chief of the Defence Staff, urged Britons not to head to Ukraine to fight against Russia, contradicting Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’s previous expressions of support for those joining the fight.

Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, Mr Radakin said: “We’ve been very clear that it’s unlawful as well as unhelpful for UK military and for the UK population to start going towards Ukraine in that sense.

“Support from the UK, support in whatever way you can. But this isn’t really something that you want to rush to in terms of the sound of gunfire. This is about sensible support based in the UK.”

Last week, Ms Truss said she would “absolutely” support anyone who wanted to fight, with a number of Britons keen to help Ukraine defend itself against President Vladimir Putin’s military operation.

Asked if the Foreign Secretary should not have made the suggestion, Mr Radakin said: “I think she was reflecting [that] she could and that we can all understand that sentiment, and that sentiment needs to be channelled into support for Ukraine.

“But we’re saying as professional military people that actually that is not necessarily the sensible thing to be doing.”

Ms Truss’s comments run contrary to the Foreign Office advice against all travel to Ukraine, and she has also been contradicted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and several other Cabinet colleagues who have warned Britons away.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced the formation of an “international legion” to help defend his country and appealed to foreign volunteers to come forward, promising them arms to fight against Russian troops.

A website to recruit foreign volunteers was launched by the Ukrainian government on Saturday with “step-by-step” instructions on how to join.

Since the crisis in Ukraine began, a steady stream of people, some with military experience and others who have never seen action, have arrived at the Ukrainian embassy in west London to volunteer to fight against Russia.

Updated: March 07, 2022, 8:17 AM