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Briton who travelled to Ukraine warzone to join military fight leaves over 'suicide mission' fears

An Englishman who traveled to Ukraine to fight Russia’s invasion claims he fled the warzone because he was afraid of being “suicided”.

Sky News’ Ben Spann said that he didn’t tell his wife or son (16 years old) that he was heading to Ukraine to join the army, despite the fact that he has never served in military service and has no ties with the war-torn.

36-year-old from Leamington Spa, Warwickshire said that he spent five nights in a safe house in western Ukraine, along with four ex-British troops. He also claimed that he was once held hostage by a gun pointed at him after the property had been searched by an “Ukrainian SWAT” team.

Get live updates about Russia’s invasion in Ukraine

Image Ben Spann pictured in military gear with men in Ukraine

He claimed that he also saw two bodies of Russian soldiers lying at checkpoints “as warning” to Vladimir Putin’s army.

After the British Army confirmed that a number serving soldiers had gone missing, the Foreign Office advised Britons traveling to Ukraine to combat the conflict that they may be prosecuted.

Entry into Ukraine warzone without family’s permission

Read more about Russia

Sky News spoke to Mr Spann about his anti-knife crime charity. He had previously grown cannabis and said he wanted to defend Ukraine. However, he admits that it was “an absolute nightmare”.

He claimed that he told his family that he was going to Poland to assist with the aid effort for Ukrainian refugees, but in reality he wanted to “go there to fight”.

He said that he had met four ex-British soldiers, who wanted to “join resistance”, and decided to board the flight from Stansted to Szczecin, Poland on March 2.

The group landed in Poland and travelled by coach to cross the border into Ukraine. It was minus six degrees Celsius in the early morning hours, according to Mr Spann.

Image Mr. Spann said that he told his family he was going to Poland to assist with the aid effort.

He said that they stayed in a tiny safe house with other volunteers that had no running water or beds in western Ukraine.

Sky News’ Mr Spann said: “It was almost like going into a crack house in England. To be completely honest with you.

“That was a little shocking thinking: F ****** hell is this the reality”

Mr. Spann stated that the group had expected transport to arrive at their safe house on the third day in Ukraine to collect weapons, but it didn’t.

‘We sat down with AK-47s pointed towards our heads’

He said that there was a knock at the door and that “10 members of a Ukrainian SWAT Team” stormed in.

Continue reading: Briton refused to fight in Ukraine because he would be a ‘liability’

Image: After a bombing attack in Kyiv, firefighters and soldiers from Ukraine search for the remains of a building that was damaged. Pic by AP

Mr. Spann stated that one of our snipers opened the door and was pinned against the wall by two ballistic shields.

“We sat down with AK-47s pointed at the top of our heads for 20-30 mins, our hands on our heads while they searched all around us and interrogated us.

“One young man refused to turn around. He stated, “If you’re going after me, I want to see you in the eyes when you shoot me.” It was surreal.

“Once they understood why we were there, and we had managed to diffuse the situation, the atmosphere was changed.”

Russian soldiers’ bodies ‘propped up to warn’

The group did not sign up for Ukraine’s “foreign legion of fighters” before entering Ukraine. Mr Spann stated that four armed officials arrived at the property to take photos of their passports.

He stated that the Russian soldiers were seen at a checkpoint with their heads up and their hats on the next day.

Image: A Russian rocket strike in Kharkiv destroyed an apartment block. Pic: AP

He added, “This was a warning for the Russians.”

It was eye-opening. It made you realize that things are becoming real.”

“My son was questioning whether I cared about him”

Mr. Spann stated that the group returned to their safe house without receiving any weapons, and that he felt increasingly “vulnerable” when air raid sirens were set off at their location.

On his fifth day in Ukraine Mr. Spann stated that he was experiencing “real grief” from his son and wife. They were aware that he had entered warzone and that he and four other ex-British soldiers had chosen to travel to another area of the country.

He said, “I became quite near to these guys,”

“We were ready to fight and die together, if that is what happened. In those situations, you quickly develop a connection with others.

“At that time, I was experiencing some serious grief from my wife and my boy.

“My son was questioning whether I care about him. That is why I was doing the same thing with my wife.”

Continue reading: British troops cannot go to Ukraine and ‘take a few selfies’ – Armed Forces Minister

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Drone shows destruction in Mariupol

Mr. Spann stated that he believed the possibility of traveling to a more dangerous area of Ukraine without weapons was a “bit of a suicide mission”.

He said, “As these men made the decision that they would venture further into the country,” he continued.

“My wife was pretty p ***** of’

According to Mr. Spann, he returned to the Polish border from which hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees fled.

“People were pushing and shoveling. Children were crying and screaming. It was snowing. It was freezing cold. He said that my feet felt like ice.

“It was horrible to imagine what these babies and children felt. They must have been freezing.

“It reminded of a cattle marketplace to be honest… The tension was high.

“People were there for hours, and they just wanted to get the message across.”

Image On 8 March, refugees in Lviv waited to board a train for Poland.

Mr. Spann claimed that he slept on the ground of a refugee center before he traveled to Lublin, Poland. He then flew back to the UK.

He said that his wife became more worried than angry after he left Ukraine.

“My wife was very p ***** about threatening to kick me out and this and that,” Mr. Spann stated.

“She is fine now. She’s been my partner for 19 years.

“My son’s okay. He never got angry. He was just happy to be back.

Will Britons be charged with going to Ukraine to combat Russian troops?

  • According to the Foreign Office, Britons were informed that if they travel to Ukraine to aid or fight in the conflict, their activities could amount to UK legislation violations and they could face prosecution upon their return.
  • The Foreign Enlistment Act (1870) prohibits Britons from serving in the “military and naval service of any foreign country” that is at war or with a country with which the UK is “at peace”.
  • The Foreign Office advised Britons not to travel to Ukraine in any way and urged British citizens to leave this war-torn nation.
  • According to the British Army, all military personnel cannot travel to Ukraine.
  • According to reports, the Metropolitan Police has warned officers that they could face discipline if they go to Ukraine to fight the invading Russian army.
  • Questions have been raised about whether it is legal for Britons to travel abroad to fight in foreign conflicts.
  • The Crown Prosecution Service warned in 2014 that UK citizens who went to Syria to fight in civil war could be charged with an offense, even if the rebels were fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

However, Mr. Spann, the founder of Change Your Life Put Down Your Knife said he regrets leaving Ukraine.

He said, “I have no regrets about going, but I do have regrets about leaving.”

“I regret that I left those lads. Although I don’t know how useful they would have been to me, I feel that I let them down.

“I wish I could be there to be truthful.

“I know they are safe, and they reached their destination safely so it makes me think that I would have been safe. Maybe I shouldn’t have.”

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Mr. Spann stated that he would be open to returning to Ukraine during the conflict, but believes people with less military experience “can be more burdensome”.

He said, “I wouldn’t recommend non-military personnel going out there.”

“I believe you can be more burdensome for these guys with the resources they have.”

“I would probably say that I would go back, but that’s probably my ego.

“The little voice in the back of my head would tell me that I’d be more draining on them.”


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