An elite British serviceman has been arrested after returning from Ukraine, where he allegedly went to join the so-called International Legion of Territorial Defense, which brings together foreign fighters wishing to engage Russian troops, it was reported.
The 19-year-old member of the Coldstream Guard had gone AWOL (absent without leave) some two weeks ago after getting “bored” with the ceremonial role of his regiment. According to The Sun, he wanted to see some real action, which he had failed to do while in Afghanistan.
The soldier was persuaded to return to Britain to avoid further consequences. But three other servicemen who went along with him are said to have stayed in Ukraine.
“The Guardsman seems to have seen the error of his ways while he was in Ukraine and everyone is hugely relieved about that,” The Sun printed.
“He was in touch with his chain of command, who told him that he had to return. He knew he would be in trouble but was also told in no uncertain terms that it would be worse the longer he stayed out there,” the newspaper's source added. The Guardsman could face a jail term for desertion.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Defence explicitly warned active-duty soldiers against going to fight in Ukraine on their own, regardless of whether they were on leave or not, or ”face disciplinary and administrative consequences.”
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin recently warned it is “unlawful” for serving troops to go and fight in another country's army. The Sun also claimed the chiefs of staff are worried that if British soldiers are taken prisoner, Russia could claim the UK is intervening directly in the conflict.