AWOL Troops May Be Fighting in Ukraine: UK

Several went missing after conflicting signals from their government
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2022 5:10 PM CST
UK Fears Missing Troops Are Fighting in Ukraine
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets NATO troops after a joint press conference at an airbase in Tallinn, Estonia, on March 1.   (Leon Neal/Pool Photo via AP)

The UK would like its troops back. The army said it's missing a small number of troops and suspects they went to Ukraine without leave to join the fight against the Russian invasion, the BBC reports. "We are actively and strongly encouraging them to return to the UK," an army spokesperson said. The government has sent weapons to Ukraine, and, as a member of NATO, supports the Ukraine in the battle. Still, a Cabinet member told troops, per the Guardian, "You cannot just get up and go."

Former troops interested in joining the battle have complained about mixed messages from their government. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss first endorsed civilians signing up, saying that it was up to individuals to decide. Then the government said that, actually, no one should travel to Ukraine now. And defense officials said fighting for Ukraine might be illegal and could make Russia think the UK had deployed troops. Like the US, the UK has repeatedly said it's not sending any of its forces.

As many as four UK troops are missing and suspected of having left for Ukraine. Over the weekend, a 19-year-old Coldstream Guard wrote a goodbye letter to his parents and bought a ticket to Poland, per the Sun. A former Royal Marine commando and six other veterans have traveled to Ukraine, as well. Military personnel going there will be penalized, defense officials said. A spokesperson said the government understands the sentiment, but added, "We think the best way we can help Ukraine right now is by ensuring" that Russian President Vladimir Putin fails. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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