The Ukrainian government is trying to arm foreigners who volunteered to work as medics and send them to Kyiv as “cannon fodder”, according to British ex-volunteers.

Carl Walsh, a former combat medical technician who previously served in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq over a near-20-year career, and former paramedic Ollie Funnell told The Telegraph — a right-leaning newspaper close to the British government — that the Ukrainian embassy in London had assured them they would not be required to fight when they offered their services as medics — but their situation changed dramatically when they entered the country from neighbouring Poland.

“To join the International Legion, the Ukrainians wanted to take our passports off us, sign a year contract, give us training for two days — 48 hours — and then within another 48 hours we would be fighting in Kyiv,” claimed Walsh in comments to the British newspaper.

“It wasn’t on any of the emails we received, that we would have to sign up for a year and they would take your passport off you,” he added.

The 50-year-old said that some of the “boys” among the foreign volunteers he encountered had no prior military experience and, moreover, “didn’t even have weapons in camp to train with” — but they were nevertheless “told they would have 48 hours… and then they are straight on the front line.”

“It’s a death wish,” the Briton lamented.

Ukrainian volunteers, too, are being deployed in Kyiv with minimal training, with the BBC recently interviewing teenage university students who had been posted at a checkpoint just a few miles back from the front line after just “three days training”.

Mr Funnell, who had been working as a teacher before travelling to Ukraine, said he believed he would be carrying out humanitarian work in the country, but that the Ukrainians tried to send him and other foreign volunteers to their country’s embattled capital “as cannon fodder.”

In a message to other Britons thinking of following in his footsteps, he warned that they would “just end up being conscripted, [the Ukrainians] will put you on the frontline knowing you don’t have any military experience — it is a suicide mission.”

The pair said they escaped this fate after encountering a French Foreign Legion veteran who bluntly informed their group that “Ninety-five per cent of you will be killed within days of arriving in Kyiv” and persuaded them to get back on their bus and go back the way they came.

Mere hours after Walsh and Funnell recrossed the border into Poland, the so-called International Peacekeeping and Security Center in Yavoriv, which was supposed to receive them, was pounded by at least 30 Russian cruise missiles, leaving multiple volunteers dead and sending dozens of survivors straggling back to Poland in the aftermath.

While Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss initially supported Britons volunteering in Ukraine, the country’s Ministry of Defence later clarified that this was unlawful, with defence minister James Heappey warning that “the Ukrainians have made clear, once you cross the border with the expectation to fight, you’re in it for good.”

“[P]eople who think they can go and do a couple of weeks, take some selfies, get some Instagram shots, and then come home — that is not the way the Ukrainians are viewing the people that go to fight,” he cautioned, to emphasise the fact that some volunteers may find that turning back as Mr Walsh and Mr Funnell did may quickly cease to be an option.

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