British fighters in Ukraine share harrowing footage from frontline

Ukraine: British troops perform mock exercise

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British fighters who have returned from fighting in Ukraine have spoken out about their war experience after documenting months of footage. Eight fighters and aid workers joined the Karpathian Sich Battalion in the East to support Ukrainian forces in their defence of their country, engaging in months of intense fighting against the Russian army.

As they took part in operations to push back Russian forces and recapture Ukrainian ground, they filmed their war operations and shared it with BBC Newsnight.

One of the volunteers James Chadwick, 21, quit the British Army to help Ukrainian forces.

He said: “They needed help, so I knew I could fight. That’s what we’re trying to do. That’s why I got up and went.”

Asked if the presence of British volunteers makes a difference in the overall war effort, Mr Chadwick said: “Yeah big time as well. It makes Ukrainians feel like they’re not alone.”

Tim Stead, who served in Afghanistan, said he and his fellow comrades came under tank fire from the Russian army with little weaponry to strike back.

While some of those who volunteered to help Ukraine had military experience, others were raw recruits. James Dee volunteered after seeing a Facebook advertisement, despite no previous experience.

He said: “I know it’s not much. But they said: ‘We’ll give you a month’s training and we’ll send you out on the frontline to the Kharkiv district.”

Mr Dee recalls his first experience on the battlefield, as a tank headed towards him through some undergrowth.

“They came straight for me. I don’t think I thought: ‘Oh yeah, I’m going to get killed here right now’.”

As they spent months fighting Russian artillery, a round missed Mr Dee by inches. Footage shows him regrouping and telling his comrades: “Everyone okay? It’s landed right next to me I can’t hear anything. I can’t hear a thing.”


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As they took part in operations to push back Russian forces and recapture Ukrainian ground, the group came face-to-face with the Russian army. The eight British soldiers stumbled upon five Russian prisoners of war.

Mr Stead admitted he felt “sorry” for them and “empathised”, adding his “biggest fear” was “getting captured”. Mr Dee, however, said he wanted to kill them as there is a “high chance” they could kill some of his comrades.

In August, British volunteer Craigh McIntosh, a landscape gardener from Norfolk, joined their group without telling his family. His brother found out about his plans the day before he left and tried to talk him out of it “all the time” – even on the way to the airport. He was shot on August 25 on the battlefield.

The British soldiers have joined an estimated 17,000 foreign fighters who have flocked to the country over eight years.

The anniversary of Vladimir Putin invading Ukraine is later this week, on Friday February 24.

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