74-year-old British veteran travels to Ukraine to support the country’s military

Ian Cunningham, who left the British Army in 1977, told PA he had been ‘appalled’ by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

07 March 2022

A 74-year-old former British Army officer has travelled to Kyiv to support the Ukrainian military.

Ian Cunningham left the British Army in 1977, aged 29, and went on to pursue a career in business.

Now living near Toulouse, France, he flew to Poland after Russia invaded Ukraine, and took a taxi into the country.

Speaking to the PA news agency, he said: “Like all of us, I had been watching what’s going on on television, and the newspapers and had been absolutely appalled by (Vladimir) Putin and his murderous thugs.

“And then I thought, ‘I don’t think I can sit here any longer and watch Putin bombing all these innocent civilians in Ukraine’. I thought it’s absolutely disgraceful.”

Russia Ukraine War
Mr Cunningham told PA that attacks on civilians in Ukraine were ‘disgraceful’ (Dmytro Kumaka/AP)

Having arrived in Kyiv, Mr Cunningham is part of the so-called International Brigade, made up of people from across the world who have travelled to Ukraine.

While he does not think he will be fighting on the front line, he hopes to find a role with the Ukrainian military elsewhere.

“The poor old body is not quite as young as it was, but I’ve certainly got my brain.”

Mr Cunningham also told PA that his family does not know where he has gone.

“The family think I’m away on a business trip at the moment,” he said, adding he thinks they will be “lost for words” when they discover where he is.

Cabinet Meeting
Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin has said Britons going to Ukraine to join the fights is ‘unlawful as well as unhelpful’ (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Chief of the Defence Staff has urged Britons not to head to Ukraine to fight against Russia, a clear rebuke to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss after she expressed support for those joining the fight.

Speaking on March 6, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: “We’ve been very clear that it’s unlawful as well as unhelpful for UK military and for the UK population to start going towards Ukraine in that sense.

“Support from the UK, support in whatever way you can. But this isn’t really something that you want to rush to in terms of the sound of gunfire.

“This is about sensible support based in the UK.”

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