‘We will fight them, make no mistake about that’: Ex-squaddies in the trenches with Ukraine troops reveal the Russian invasion threat
- Shaun Pinner is one of at least ten UK nationals who have travelled to Donbas
- There they are taking on pro-Moscow separatists as the threat of invasion grows
- The 48-year-old, originally from Bedfordshire and married to a Ukrainian woman, has been in Donbas for the past four years, fighting as a ‘contact soldier’
- ‘I am here defending my family and adopted city. Russia started this war,’ he said
A former British soldier fighting in Ukraine has spoken about the Russian invasion threat, insisting: ‘We will fight them, make no mistake about that.’
Shaun Pinner is one of at least ten UK nationals who have travelled to the country’s wartorn eastern region, known as the Donbas, to take on pro-Moscow separatists.
The 48-year-old, originally from Bedfordshire and married to a Ukrainian woman, has been in Donbas for the past four years.
Shaun Pinner (pictured) is one of at least ten UK nationals who have travelled to the country’s wartorn eastern region, known as the Donbas, to take on pro-Moscow separatists
Mr Pinner, who previously served in the Royal Anglian Regiment, said he fought with the Ukrainian army as a ‘contract soldier’.
Speaking from a trench ten miles outside Mariupol, he said: ‘I am here defending my family and adopted city. Russia started this war – it’s funded by Russia and driven by Russia. But we will fight them, make no mistake about that.’
Mr Pinner said fighting in the trenches was ‘like Hell’, with snipers ‘less than 600m away’.
He added: ‘Separatists are now using drones to drop bombs and mortars – along with automatic grenade launchers and RPG rockets. Snipers are always present and there’s small arms fire almost daily.
‘Ukrainian forces respond if we deem our lives to be threatened whereas separatists seem to shoot whenever they fancy.
‘Sometimes it’s very scary no matter how used to it you are. Sometimes you hear it [explosions] start further down the contact line, then it ripples through your position.
Pictured: An instructor trains members of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, January 22, 2022
‘That’s why you get time to dive into cover and sometimes you may get a warning beforehand. Snipers are less than 600m away.’
The veteran British soldier faces life-and-death situations regularly, but one incident three years ago stands out.
‘I had an artillery strike on my position in 2019. I didn’t think I was going to get out of that alive.
‘Over the course of three days, six people died on my position. I was jumping from crater to crater with another guy, moving between shots and explosions while on a changeover. Only after I managed to get back to a position on the rear we realised our men had died. It took a while to sink in.’
Mr Pinner, who previously served in the Royal Anglian Regiment, said he fought with the Ukrainian army as a ‘contract soldier
Mr Pinner added: ‘This is my ninth war tour. Death has been a part of my life for so long. You can’t go into each day thinking you will be killed or injured.
‘I fear for my life. The Russians will treat us differently if we are captured because we are British. This is always on my mind – that I will be captured.
‘I’m not just another war junkie. I have excelled better than most Ukrainians. I am the first Westerner to complete all aspects of parachute training as a Ukrainian soldier.’
More than 14,000 people have been killed over the past eight years of conflict since Kremlin-backed forces seized large areas of eastern Ukraine alongside the border with Russia.
They include the Donbas region which is currently run by Vladimir Putin stooges in their own mini-fiefdoms from the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Meanwhile, with more than 100,000 Russian troops camped on Ukraine’s northern, eastern and southern borders, the US has sent 90 tons of ‘lethal aid’ to the country.
The military aid package, worth £147 million, included ammunition for ‘front-line defenders’. It arrived a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned of a tough US response if Russia invaded.
This weekend, Ukraine’s intelligence service accused Russia of sending weapons and fuel to pro-Russian militia on the frontline in Donbas.
The Russians sent 7,000 tons of fuel, several tanks and self-propelled artillery units to the frontline regions, it said.
It was announced yesterday that Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has accepted an invitation for talks with his British counterpart Ben Wallace in London early this week to try to defuse tensions.
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