he UK is sending war crimes experts to help Ukraine investigate atrocities committed by Russian invaders, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has announced.
It comes after the death of a British military veteran in Ukraine and as the Foreign Office urgently seeks more information following reports of two British aid workers being held by Russian forces in the country .
The Foreign Ministry said the team of experts, due to arrive in neighboring Poland in early May, will support the Ukrainian government in collecting evidence and prosecuting war crimes and will include experts in conflict-related sexual violence. .
Ms Truss said: “Russia brought barbarism to Ukraine and committed vile atrocities, including against women.
“British expertise will help uncover the truth and hold (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s regime accountable. Justice will be done. »
Ms Truss is meeting in The Hague on Friday with the president of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has opened an investigation into alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
Moscow does not recognize the authority of the ICC, which presents obvious difficulties.
Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry said Russia was paying a high price for limited land gains in eastern Ukraine.
“The Battle of Donbass remains Russia’s main strategic objective, in order to achieve its stated goal of securing control of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts,” the department said in its latest intelligence update.
“Due to strong Ukrainian resistance, Russian territorial gains were limited and achieved at significant cost to Russian forces.”
The two British civilians detained in Ukraine were working as humanitarian aid volunteers when they were captured by the Russian army on Monday at a checkpoint south of the southeastern town of Zaporizhzhia, according to the British non-profit organization Presidium. Network.
International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan told Sky News: ‘The Foreign Office is doing everything it can to support and identify these two individuals.
Tributes have been paid to British military veteran Scott Sibley, who is believed to have fought in support of Ukrainian forces, after the Foreign Office confirmed that a British national died in Ukraine and another is missing without identifying the couple.
The families of both are supported, a spokesperson said, declining to give names or further details.
The fundraisers received donations of over £10,000 for the veteran’s family, with Craig Grant writing on a Gofundme page: “To me he was a friend like no other and the bravest person I had the pleasure of knowing, he was as good as a brother to me.
Tributes were also left on the Logistics Support Squadron’s Facebook page, where a photo was posted alongside the comment: “This week the squadron lost a former serving soldier. A man who showed the Commando spirit until the end. TO TEAR. Scott Sibley.
A small number of serving British servicemen are thought to have gone without leave to join the resistance against the Russian invasion, while veterans and Britons without combat experience also reportedly went to Ukraine.
There was initially confusion over the Government’s position after Ms Truss, in comments during a BBC interview on February 26, said she would ‘absolutely’ support British nationals who chose to fight for Ukraine.
However, she later backtracked on those comments, insisting that she had “expressed her support for the Ukrainian cause” in her remarks and that there are “better ways” to help defend the country.
Ms Trevelyan said Mr Sibley’s death was “terribly sad”, but denied Ms Truss’ comments had caused any confusion.
She told Times Radio: “Terribly, terribly sad news to hear…
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs works closely with the Ukrainian authorities and effectively supports the family.
“But the government has made it clear that the travel advice is: don’t go to Ukraine.
“It was clear and it was repeated many times.”
Meanwhile, around 8,000 British Army soldiers are to take part in exercises across Eastern Europe to combat Russian aggression in one of the largest deployments since the Cold War.
Dozens of tanks will be deployed in countries from Finland to North Macedonia this summer under plans that have been upgraded since the invasion of Ukraine.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the ‘show of solidarity and strength’ will see British military personnel join NATO allies and those in the Joint Expeditionary Force alliance, which includes the Finland and Sweden, for the exercises.