‘Hard to be critical’ of Brits fighting in Ukraine, says UK’s ambassador

The UK’s ambassador to Ukraine has mentioned she will be able to perceive why some Britons have travelled to combat within the nation in opposition to recommendation.

Ambassador Melinda Simmons, who returned to Kyiv final week beneath orders from Boris Johnson, mentioned: “Our travel advice is really clear, it makes very clear that Ukraine is not a safe place to be.

“It advises against all travel, but travel advice is just that: advice. Many millions of people have responded to the Ukraine conflict in different ways.”

She informed the BBC’s World At One: “I can see that some feel that the best way to do that is to come to the country and fight. I can’t support that, because I’ve made clear that the country is not safe to be in, but some will nonetheless make that choice.”

Ms Simmons added: “I think it’s quite hard to be critical of people who make choices to do this, this is an existential fight that is founded on principles that many Brits hold incredibly dear.

“Some people interpret that as wanting to do something they think they can do, which is come and fight, or come to a dangerous area to help deliver humanitarian aid. I’d rather they didn’t, because it’s not a safe country.”

She mentioned the UK Authorities is “working quite closely” with the Worldwide Committee of the Crimson Cross to make sure that Britons held captive by Russia’s forces are having their rights revered, amid fears for captured fighters Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner.

The ambassador continued: “Of course, we are calling on Russia to adhere to their international obligations to ensure these people are kept safe and return them as quickly as we can.”

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The diplomat informed the broadcaster it was “shocking” returning to Kyiv and seeing “bombed-out schools, playgrounds, homes and shopping centres” and “tanks that have been abandoned along the road”.

Requested if she felt protected within the metropolis, Simmons mentioned: “I do not think that Kyiv is safe, but I do think it is relatively secure.

“The government here is under illusions that Kyiv is still part of the strategic objective of Russia’s invasion, but it feels secure in the sense that the armed forces, the government and police are taking that incredibly seriously.”

She warned that Russia’s invasion would proceed “certainly for some months, certainly towards this year, quite probably through next year”.

Ms Simmons likened nuclear threats towards the UK aired on Russian state tv as “like eating a bad takeaway”, including “It’s just a constant diet of propaganda.

“Everything that is threatened has to be heard and security assessment made, but if you took every Russian threat seriously, we wouldn’t be here.”

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