'We believe what we're doing is right': Brits fighting for Putin in Ukraine

The UK government says the alleged actions of the two men are "reprehensible"

Two British men who are alleged to be fighting for Russia in Ukraine have been called "traitors" who should be arrested.

Ben Stimson, 48, from Oldham and Aiden Minnis, 37, from Chippenham, are fighting for a Russian foreign volunteer force in the Donbas region of Ukraine. They are understood to be the first Britons to join the Kremlin's army in the more than two years-long war.

Mr Stimson has mocked the UK's funding of Ukraine military hardware in videos posted on YouTube.

In one titled 'Back to Russia with Love' posted on YouTube last week, Mr Stimson was seen waving a grenade used by Ukraine and joked, "we've got some British taxpayer's returns."

"I'm back in Russia and I'm back in uniform", he said wearing army clothes with an embroidered Russian flag.

He also shared a video on Tuesday titled "Foreign volunteers with Russian army in action (funny video)", showing soldiers running through fields and digging up a hand grenade next to dead bodies with the song 'Black Betty' laid over the top.

The UK government said their behaviour was "reprehensible".

Mr Stimson in 2015 posing under the Novorossiya flag. Credit: Facebook

After being exposed in a report by the Mirror in which the men are labelled "traitors", which also revealed his father had disowned him, Mr Stimson posted a video in which he states: "If you want some real news, go and do some research on the internet about what's going on in Russia and Ukraine."

Mr Stimson dismissed the reports about him as "rabble rousing tittle tattle" in the YouTube video.

"A soldier's a soldier, the world over, you can make your voice to join whatever army you want," he said.

Mr Minnis' Facebook page features an image of him holding an Irish flag next to men holding a Donetsk People's Republic flag. Credit: Facebook

In another video he addressed other soldiers who had criticised him online, saying: "Every man takes his choice, you lot have chosen to go over to that side, but a lot of us chose to come over to... the Russian side, because we believe what we're doing is right."

“You’re throwing words around like terrorist, it’s easy to call someone a terrorist, I got seven years from the British state”, he said.

He ends the video saying "I am not a f****** terrorist - remember that."

Former British Army commander Colonel Richard Kemp told the Mirror the two men were "an absolute disgrace and are traitors who upon their return to the UK should be arrested and jailed."

Mr Stimson was jailed in 2015 after joining pro-Russian forces in the Donbas Credit: Greater Manchester Police

On Wednesday afternoon Mr Stimson also shared an image on his Facebook page of British spy for the Soviet Union Kim Philby.

Mr Stimson has previously been jailed for more than five years after joining pro-Russian forces in the Donbas region of Ukraine in 2015. He pleaded guilty to intending to commit acts of terrorism and engaging in their preparation but told Manchester Crown Court he did not engage in any fighting while he was there, and instead planned to drive ambulances.

Mr Minnis, a former member of the National Front, was jailed in December 2008 for four years for an unprovoked racist attack on a passerby.

He was also convicted of other violent incidents including robbery and attempted robbery.

A UK government spokesperson said: "Reports of British nationals taking part in Putin’s illegal invasion are shocking and their alleged actions are reprehensible."

Mr Minnis poses with a gun under a Russian flag Credit: Facebook

Is it illegal to fight for Russia?

The Home Office says: "Any person who travels from the UK to conflict zones to engage in unlawful activity, should expect to be investigated upon their return.”

There is also legislation called the Foreign Enlistment Act of 1870 which bans Britons from fighting in the "military or naval service of any foreign state" that is at war with a country that the UK is "at peace" with.

A number of British jihadis who fought for ISIS in Syria have been prosecuted.

In 2014, the Crown Prosecution Service warned that UK nationals who went to fight in the Syrian civil war could be committing an offence, even if they joined the rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad.

Thousands of foreign fighters have also joined Ukrainian forces to help the country defend itself against Russia, but they may also face legal investigations when they return home.

Former Foreign Secretary Liz Truss initially supported the idea of citizen volunteers fighting for Ukraine, but then changed her position after then Defence Secretary Ben Wallace warned against it.

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