‘We're not war junkies’ - Norfolk ex-soldier joins Brits in Ukraine
- Credit: PA/Connor Darton
A former soldier from Norfolk has travelled to Ukraine to help fight in the war against Russia.
Connor Darton, 30, from Norwich, booked a £20 Ryanair flight to the Polish city of Krakow before crossing the border into Ukraine.
"I just can't sit at home and watch what's going on and carry on as usual," said the former Royal Anglian Regiment soldier, who served in Afghanistan.
The father-of-two had began planning to join other former British servicemen volunteering to join the ranks of Ukrainian fighters shortly after the Russian invasion in February.
While sourcing equipment including helmets, body armour and trauma medical kits he received thousands of messages from people either offering kit or wanting to also head to Ukraine.
He travelled to Poland with two other former British soldiers Elliott Davies, a construction worker from Colchester, and Kieran Perkins, a plumber from Brighton, who he met for the first time at Stansted airport.
The trio, with 19 years of experience in the British military, spent a cold night sleeping outside a railway station before heading for a border crossing then taking a minibus along with other recruits to Lviv.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has temporarily lifted the requirement for entry visas for any foreigner willing to join Ukraine's International Defence Legion.
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But the legal position for Brits heading to fight is vague. Foreign secretary Liz Truss previously said she would "absolutely" support those who choose to go to Ukraine, but the Ministry of Defence said it may lead to prosecution.
Mr Darton, who has two sons aged six and four, said he was motivated to head into Ukraine because there were “war crimes being committed”.
"If you're not fighting in someone else's street, does it end up in yours? Do my kids become a target? Do my mates' kids?” he told an interview with the BBC at the border.
Now in Ukraine he has the choice of signing up with Ukraine's International Legion, which could mean committing to stay for the duration of the war, or linking up with other British former soldiers already fighting at the front line.
He denied the motivation was any sort of thrill seeking. "Anyone who thinks we're war junkies or war tourists needs to stick to watching the news," he said.
"There is no excitement to war. There's nothing nice about dead kids at the side of the road.”