EXCLUSIVE: Six British soldiers explain why they are fighting in Ukraine as Europe silent

Ukraine: Soldiers discuss fight for their land against Russia

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Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, prominent journalist Hamidreza Zarifinia joined the group of volunteers, crossing into Ukraine from the Polish border on an eye-opening journey. Witnessing distressing scenes, viewing tens of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing for their lives, and seeing first-hand the damage inflicted by Russian strikes, Mr Zarifinia described the experience as catastrophic.

When asked why the British soldiers had volunteered their time, and essentially took a life-endangering risk to travel to Ukraine and fight, the British soldiers gave a solemn and brave answer.

Mr Zarifinia said: “Since I joined British volunteer soldiers heading to Poland and then Ukraine to defend against Russian aggression, they explained their motives to me in a few ways.

“Defending the Ukrainian people against Russian military aggression; Preventing civilians from being killed; Countering Russia’s unfair aggression against Ukraine; Human duty.

“They told me when the world, Europe, and Britain were silent, human duty could not be silent.

“They believed by defending the Ukrainian people against this blatant aggression, they would stand in the right direction of history and make history.”

He added: “Among these young volunteers were both snipers and military personnel, as well as marines.

“A few military volunteers from Canada had joined the group, who knew each other from previous wars against terrorism in the Middle East.”

The accredited journalist spent several days in the country, including spending time on the southern outskirts of Kyiv.

When asked how the British soldiers were feeling, he said: “In the few days I was with them, the only thing I witnessed was professionalism, there were no signs of fear or worry.

“They had a lot of energy and positive motivation to defend civilians, defenceless places, and the free world against evil aggression and fascism.

“Most of them were married, talking to their children and families, and it was strange to me, unlike in the Middle East, where families cry in these situations and may create negative energy, the families of these British volunteers present in the battle for Ukraine gave them positive energy and at least tried not to convey their anxiety to these volunteers.

“Thus, the British people, or perhaps the British statesmen, should be proud of these men.

“But the point of interest was the Ukrainian people expressed a lot of feelings for the British volunteers and called them heroes. This made us very emotional.”

Speaking first-hand of the scenes witnessed on the ground Mr Zarifinia said: “Western cities such as Lviv and Ternopil, which had not yet experienced a state of war, were in a state of anxiety and stress. People felt extremely scared.

“The streets were like war days in the Middle East, i.e., full of anxiety, stress, and fear.

“But in the central and eastern cities there was more fear and anxiety, traffic with severe security issues, roads mostly closed, food running out, buildings destroyed, but the areas where I was there until March 6 had not yet been invaded by the Russian infantry.

“The important thing is Ukrainian men and young people intended to stay and defend, even if they were empty-handed, even with a stick.

“The Ukrainian people believe their country has been subjected to an unfair, brutal, fascist, and fabricated pretext war.”

Mr Zarifinia stayed in a safe house provided by Ukrainians to the group.

Should British volunteers be fighting in Ukraine? Can Ukrainian resistance hold off Russian control of Kyiv? Should NATO become involved in the conflict? Have your say on these pressing questions by CLICKING HERE and joining the debate in our comments section below – Every Voice Matters!

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Speaking of the conditions the British volunteers were living in, the journalist said: “They were initially housed in the safe houses the Ukrainians had provided for them, and during the day they either brought them food or provided it themselves from the few stores that were still open.

“But in general, as they moved to the east, the food supply also decreased for them.

“I can’t say exactly where they were supplied weapons from, but I know how many Ukrainian volunteers coordinated with them to order weapons and ammunition.”

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Mr Zarifinia also spoke of the dire conditions faced by Ukrainians trying to escape the war.

Speaking of his experience at the border with Poland, he said: “Things were not very well-organized.

“At one of the border crossings, about 20 miles before they reached the Polish border, the vehicles were queuing, some of which had been abandoned due to terrible traffic, some due to running out of fuel, and the occupants were running in the cold and under the snow.

“On the Polish border, they sometimes had to queue for 11 to 12 hours to allow them to enter Poland.

“Poland’s border police showed great restraint and patience, and I witnessed the hundreds of thousands of refugees being treated like compatriots or friends.

“One asylum seeker told me he came about 30 miles with a pushchair.

“He told me ‘we think Europe, Britain, and America are leaving us alone in this war, we are not seeking asylum, we want global action to stop Russian aggression’.”

Should the UK accept more Ukrainian refugees? What will happen if the conflict spreads into mainland Europe? Has Putin miscalculated his plans for Ukraine? Let us know what you think by CLICKING HERE and joining the debate in our comments section below – Every Voice Matters!

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said: “All Service Personnel are prohibited from travelling to Ukraine until further notice. This applies whether the Service Person is on leave or not. Personnel travelling to Ukraine will face disciplinary and administrative consequences.”

“We advise against all travel to Ukraine. Travelling to fight, or to assist others engaged in the conflict, maybe against the law and could lead to prosecution.

“We fully understand the strength of feeling for UK citizens and others living in the UK wanting to support the Ukrainians following the Russian invasion – because this is about freedom and democracy in Europe.

“With our allies, we are providing a range of support to Ukraine, including to enhance Ukraine’s defence capability, but this support is fundamentally defensive in nature. Neither NATO nor Ukraine poses any aggressive threat to Russia. 

“There are many ways that you can support the Ukrainian people at this time, including through charitable donations.

“The UK has incredibly limited consular support in Ukraine, and is unlikely to be able to offer assistance to anyone in the country.”

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