Can former members of the armed forces join the Ukrainian war?

Ukraine Update

9th March 2022

Kevin Brennan Labour, Cardiff West
There was a report from Reuters yesterday that dozens of former Paras have signed up for the Ukrainian foreign legion and that hundreds more are expected to do so. Will the Defence Secretary give the House absolute clarity on the UK Government’s position in relation to those volunteers? 

Ben Wallace The Secretary of State for Defence
The Government’s position is: if you are a serving member of the armed forces, you will be breaking the law. There were reports in the weekend newspaper about three members who had gone AWOL over the weekend. They will be breaking the law and they will be prosecuted when they return for going AWOL or deserting. For others, as the Government’s travel advice is “Do not go to Ukraine”, we strongly discourage them from joining these forces. My experience, having been Security Minister, is that where people went off to join the YPG and other organisations it did not end well. It is also the case, as a number of these people are now discovering, that the Ukrainians are very clear in saying, “You turn up, you are in it for the whole game. You are not in it for a selfie and six weeks. You are in it for real.” I think we have seen already some people at the border decide that that may not be the right option to follow.