Phone Signals of British Volunteers May Have Triggered Strike on Ukrainian Base

LVIV, UKRAINE - MARCH 15: Ukrainian servicemen carry a coffin during the funeral service f
Photo by Alexey Furman/Getty Images

Britons who volunteered with Ukraine’s International Legion could have been responsible for a missile strike that killed at least 35 people at a Ukrainian training facility.

Between 12 to 14 British phone numbers starting with the +44 national dialling code were visible to surveillance equipment a short time before the Russian missile strike on the Yavoriv training facility in western Ukraine on the 13th of March.

Mercenaries who were contracted by the Wagner Group, a military company linked to Moscow, may have been operating nearby at the time of the strike, according to reports, and specialists fear they would have been able to pick up, locate, and target a concentrated group of British mobile phone signals and pass the information to Russian forces.

Russia is believed to have access to phone numbers associated with British armed forces personnel including special forces veterans due to espionage and hacking efforts in the past, The Telegraph reports.

The newspaper, which is close to Boris Johnson’s government, also claimed that a source told them there was potentially “a mole placed in the unit [on the Yavoriv base] who was seen running from the camp around 30 minutes before the attack, with a laptop and kit.”

This has not been verified, however.

Many of those who are currently volunteering with the international legion are believed to have a military background, with some inexperienced civilian volunteers reportedly being turned away at the border after being classed as a “liability“.

There have been varying accounts of how Britons have been treated in the legion. Most opt to avoid publishing their experience due to security concerns — or the risk that the British government might prosecute them — but some with no military background faced a culture shock on discovering that the warzone wasn’t what they imagined and left the country.

Others claimed they were treated like “cannon fodder”, and that the Ukrainian military only planned to give them 48 hours of training before taking their passports and shipping them out to the front line.

It does appear that some foreign nationals who don’t wish to fight have been able to leave the country, however.

Well-intentioned Britons who volunteer to fight for Ukraine could also, as previously mentioned, face prosecution upon returning to Britain — despite Foreign Secretary Lizz Truss initially saying she “absolutely” supported British citizens travelling to fight, which may not be a legal defence against Britain’s Foreign Enlistment Act of 1870 in court.

The government has declined to comment whether foreign volunteers would be prosecuted upon their return under terrorism charges, but in an effort to show Britain doesn’t endorse volunteers joining the international legion, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has insisted any active service personnel who travel to fight in Ukraine will face prosecution.

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