ONE of the first British fighters in Ukraine told yesterday of his ferocious battle with Russian troops at the Battle of Antonov.
Ex-Army medic Jason Haigh, 34, exchanged gunfire with the Red Army as it sought to seize an airport and was later beaten by guards in terrifying interrogations.
One of the first British fighters in Ukraine told yesterday of his ferocious battle with Russian troops
Ex-Army medic Jason Haigh, 34, was later beaten by guards was interrogated
Jason said: ‘What Putin is doing is terrorism’
Jason, who served two tours of Iraq, told The Sun: “The Ukrainians fought like lions and I’m proud I was alongside them. What Putin is doing is terrorism. He’s bombing kids and families for nothing. He’s a war criminal.”
He flew to Ukraine at the start of last month. He recalled: “When I told my mates they were like, ‘What, are you mad?’. I’m a qualified combat medic and have done seven years working as a private military contractor. I wanted to go and do some good.”
He set up home in Kyiv and linked up with foreign fighters ahead of the invasion.
Jason was sleeping when a pal woke him on the morning Putin’s troops and tanks invaded.
He told The Sun: “The world just blew up. You could hear rockets coming over the buildings.
“In the distance there were bright lights flashing all over the city from the Russian bombardment. It was completely surreal.”
Jason dashed out of his city centre flat in full body armour and carrying an AK-47.
His unit quickly joined a detachment of Ukrainian troops heading to defend Hostomel Airport.
Jason recalled: “It was a very confusing situation. No one really knew what was going on.
“As we headed into the dark I think it’s fair to say I was scared.
“Anyone who goes into that position that isn’t scared is a liar.
“When we arrived it was very quiet. But all of a sudden the gates of hell opened up on us.”
A squadron of Russian jets fired down rockets before a fleet of attack choppers joined in.
Jason and ten soldiers from the Georgian Legion took cover in woodland. Jason, who served with the Mercian Regiment, added: “We got very close to getting whacked. I’ve never experienced firepower like that, I don’t think anyone of this generation ever has.
“Iraq and Afghanistan was totally different. The Russians are a conventional modern army.”
Reinforcements then arrived with Stinger missiles to pick off the Russian choppers in a brave show of Ukrainian resistance.
However, Jason and an American pal were later arrested by Ukraine agents looking for Russian saboteurs. He said: “My mate and I had a day sack with two walkie talkies and a small pistol.
“We had them for genuine reasons such as if the comms network went down but they got suspicious.”
As we headed into the dark I think it’s fair to say I was scared. Anyone who goes into that position that isn’t scared is a liar. When we arrived it was very quiet. But all of a sudden the gates of hell opened up on us.
Jason Haigh on the Battle of Antonov
They were taken to a security service base and interrogated for three hours. Jason said: “My head was slammed down by one of the guards.
“A different guy came in and I could tell by his kit that he was in an elite unit. He had cable ties and two hoods and I thought ‘S***, this is real’.
“They kept shouting Russian at me but obviously I said I was English. They whacked me around eight or nine times. I had quite a bad concussion and was bleeding heavily.”
He went on: “They looked at my phone and my messages which was a really scary moment.
“I wasn’t scared of dying but I was scared about putting my family and friends through the pain of knowing I was in that situation.”
Eventually, they were released and Jason joined hundreds of thousands on trains to Lviv. He then fled to the Polish border before getting a train to Warsaw.
From there he flew to the UK and arrived home in Kidderminster last Friday. He said: “I didn’t go there to die. I obviously thought about it but I had a job to do.”
The Battle of Antonov — also known as the Battle of Hostomel — was among the first major skirmishes of the war, with Russian attack helicopters and jets aiming to dampen early resistance.
Putin’s forces were successful but at huge cost — as Ukrainian forces downed several choppers. Jason said: “The Ukrainian people are heroes. They’re all great blokes who have the heart of lions and are defending their country.”
- SERVING British soldiers may be prosecuted for desertion if they go to Ukraine to fight, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.
A UKRAINIAN fighter standing next to a destroyed Russian tank yesterday thanked the Queen for sending weapons.
Britain has been shipping NLAWs (Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapons) to troops.
The squaddie said of the mangled tank: “We hit it thanks to the gifts from Her Majesty the Queen.
“Give us more toys like these and there will be more destroyed tanks.”
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