British marines involved in 'high-risk' covert operations in Ukraine
For the first time, a senior general acknowledged that the Royal Marines had participated in clandestine operations in Ukraine.
Royal Marines were stationed in Ukraine and took part in a number of "high-risk" operations, a former commandant general admitted.
The commandos engaged in "discreet operations" and carried out their duties in "a tremendously delicate environment," said Lieutenant General Robert Magowan, a former commander of the Royal Marines and the Deputy Chief of the Defense Staff of the United Kingdom.
The British Embassy in Kiev is secured, and the British government continues to maintain a diplomatic presence there, according to a report from the Ministry of Defense earlier this year. But Lt. Gen. Magowan's admission is the first time a senior military official confirms that British marines were deployed to Ukraine.
Lt. Magowan made the following remarks, which were published in the Globe and Laurel, the official publication of the Royal Marines: "In January of this year, 45 Commando Group deployed quickly — from the depths of a dark, north Norwegian winter, to evacuate the British embassy in Kiev to Poland. If you will, it is the international 999 emergency force."
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"Then in April, they returned into the country to re-establish the diplomatic mission, providing protection to critical personnel. During both phases, the commandos supported other discreet operations in a hugely sensitive environment and with a high level of political and military risk."
A Royal Navy spokesperson told MailOnline, "Royal Marines were deployed to Ukraine to support the UK's diplomatic presence in the country; they served no combat function."
Before the war in Ukraine, British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said a small contingent of military personnel had been to Ukraine to deliver weapons and training as the threat of war increased. Later, the British military personnel, including SAS operators, were sent to deliver weapons systems training to Ukrainian servicemen once the war began.
However, the MoD insisted no British servicemen were involved in combat operations, stating, "British military personnel have been deployed to support discussions around the significant training being offered to the Armed Forces of Ukraine by the UK. 'They serve no combat function."
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The 45 Commando force, experts in Arctic warfare, was sent to Norway for a training exercise before being recalled and sent to Ukraine to carry out quick evacuations of embassy personnel.
Just before the war in Ukraine, important government figures and diplomats were evacuated from Kiev. The marines returned to Norway, where they took part in the largest NATO military exercise since the 1980s.
The Cold Response 2022 drills featured about 30,000 soldiers from 28 different European and North American nations.
The exercises were designed to demonstrate how a cohesive multinational force would protect Norway and Europe's northern flank against a contemporary foe. However, Magowan's admission implies that a number of marines went back to Kiev just one month after the training exercises to carry out covert activities amid the Ukrainian conflict.