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6 Dec, 2023 19:40

UK special forces secretly operated in Ukraine – media

A new book alleges that Western commandos were on the ground in Kiev
UK special forces secretly operated in Ukraine – media

British special forces operators were embedded with Ukrainian troops in the early days of the conflict, Declassified UK reported on Wednesday, citing the newly published book by Polish journalist Zbigniew Parafianowicz.

Parafianowicz is the Ukraine correspondent for the Polish daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (DGP). His latest work, ‘Polska na Wojnie’ (Poland at War), examines Warsaw’s role in the neighboring conflict. 

According to Declassified, at one point, a Polish government minister – who is not named – told Parafianowicz about a time in March 2022 when he was traveling from Kiev to Zhitomir. 

“It was a time when the Russians were still standing in Bucha, and the route was a gray zone. It was possible to run into Russians. We passed the last checkpoint. The Ukrainians told us that we continue at our own risk,” the unnamed minister reportedly said. “Well, and who did we meet next? Ukrainian soldiers and … British special forces. Uniformed. With weapons.”

According to Parafianowicz’s source, the British and the Ukrainians worked together, driving around the countryside with artillery tracking radars, “learning about this war.”

The same official also said that Polish special forces based in Lublin had been in Brovary, a suburb of Kiev, “on the first day” of the hostilities. Poles – along with Brits and Americans – had been training the Ukrainian special forces since 2014, the minister said. According to Parafianowicz, Britain’s Special Air Service (SAS) had trained President Vladimir Zelensky’s security detail as well.

Another source, identified only as a high-ranking Polish officer, said that these commandos did not return to Poland, but “went in the opposite direction” – to Kharkov and parts of Donbass controlled by Ukrainians.

“They cooperated with the British,” the officer said. “Later, we worked out a formula for our presence in Ukraine … we were simply sent on paid leave. Politicians pretended not to see this.”

According to Declassified, some of these Polish commandos may have trained members of the neo-Nazi ‘Azov’ movement – specifically the ‘Kraken’ unit based in Kharkov – in the use of British-supplied NLAW rocket launchers. Social media posts identified them only as “instructors from NATO countries.”

Parafianowicz’s book appears to confirm previous media reports about NATO commandos fighting alongside Ukrainian troops. In April 2022, the French daily Le Figaro claimed that SAS and Delta Force operators had waged a “secret war” on behalf of Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s military operation. Shortly after those revelations, The Times said a number of SAS operators had returned to Ukraine to teach Kiev’s soldiers how to operate British-made anti-tank rockets. Last December, a British military publication admitted that up to 300 Royal Marines had been deployed to Ukraine for “discrete operations.”

Classified Pentagon documents that were leaked in April this year also showed at least 50 British special forces operators were still active in Ukraine as of March.

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