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Royal Marines deployed in ‘high-risk’ missions in Ukraine

Putin 'will lose in Ukraine' says former head of British Army

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Royal Marine are involved in “high-risk”, covert missions in Ukraine, a senior British general has acknowledged. The frank admission, by Lieutenant General Robert Magowan, underlines the UK’s support for Ukraine almost 10 months after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his doomed invasion on February 24.

Writing in the Royal Marines’ official magazine, the Globe and Laurel, former commandant general Mr Magowan said 350 marines were sent to escort diplomats from the British embassy at the start of 2022 as invasion fears mounted.

He explained: “In January this year, 45 Commando Group deployed at short notice – from the depths of a dark, north Norwegian winter, to evacuate the British embassy in Kyiv to Poland.

“The go-to 999 international emergency force, if you will.”

Mr Magowan added: “Then in April, they returned into the country to re-establish the diplomatic mission, providing protection to critical personnel.

“During both phases, the commandos supported other discreet operations in a hugely sensitive environment and with a high level of political and military risk.”

Previously, the Ministry of Defence had said commandos were sent to protect embassy staff, with up to 30 personnel thought to have been deployed.

However, the military has not previously admitted British forces had also taken part in special operations in Ukraine.

The 45 Commando Group specialises in Arctic warfare, and was involved in the battle for Port Stanley during the Falklands War 40 years ago, as well as seeing action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Soldiers were taking part in military drills in Norway when they were swiftly redeployed to Poland to help evacuate staff.

Mr Magowan said they had also helped train Ukrainian forces, saying: “Alongside wider defence, we have been heavily involved in training hundreds of Ukrainian military personnel throughout this summer.

“We are also planning to train Ukraine marines.”

A Royal Navy spokesman said: “Royal Marines were deployed to Ukraine to support the UK’s diplomatic presence in the country. They served no combat function.”

Up to 10,000 Ukrainians will be given training by the UK Armed Forces over the coming months.

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The programme is part of the UK’s commitment to support Ukraine, amounting to more than £2.3 billion in military aid including anti-tank weapons, armoured vehicles, and artillery.  

In July, Sir Patrick Sanders, Chief of the General Staff in the British Army, visited the first group of Armed Forces of Ukraine recruits on a training programme aimed at providing the skills needed to become effective soldiers.

Sir Patrick commented: “I was struck by the courage, morale and fighting spirit of the Ukrainian soldiers.

“Furthermore, the commitment and hard work of the instructors, and the speed with which they have put the training together, is hugely impressive.

“We will continue our work to scale up the ambition and pace of the training to maximise support to Ukraine”. 

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