In February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin made renewed efforts to assert control over Ukraine with the aim of reviving a contemporary version of the former Soviet Union (USSR) on the global platform. Since then, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been actively seeking advanced weaponry and military support, which Western and NATO nations have offered to varying extents. However, there seems to be less willingness among countries to deploy their own troops to the conflict-ridden nation.
According to reports, a collection of photos supposedly shared by 21-year-old Airman First Class Jack Teixeira from the Massachusetts Air National Guard on the messaging platform Discord allegedly contained images of classified documents. Among these documents was one, as reported by the BBC, dated March 23, which listed the presence of special forces in Ukraine categorized by country:
- United Kingdom (UK) 50.
- Latvia 17.
- France 15.
- United States 14.
- The Netherlands 1.
Tom Rogan, the national security writer and online editor for the Washington Examiner, authored an article in the opinion/commentary segment of the May 18 issue of the Wall Street Journal. In addition, he shared a corresponding message on Twitter concerning the soldiers. Rogan asserts that British troops from the SAS (Special Air Service), SRR (Special Reconnaissance Regiment), and the Navy’s SBS (Special Boat Service) are conducting operations in close proximity to the front lines.
Although the presence of soldiers and sailors in Ukraine seems limited, their role seems focused on serving as a training group for the Ukraine Special Operations Forces rather than engaging in direct combat. While there is no current evidence connecting them to this specific training, it is probable that they would assist in preparing Ukrainian forces for missions like the potential destruction of a Russian “Ironiya” surveillance platform situated atop a tall building.
U.K. special forces from the British Army’s SAS and SRR regiments and the Navy’s SBS units are operating very close to the front lines. These personnel are serving as key interlocutors between NATO intelligence efforts and Ukrainian forces.https://t.co/QdhIi17OEd— Tom Rogan (@TomRtweets) May 19, 2023
Rogan’s article primarily focuses on highlighting the contrasting approaches of the White House and 10 Downing Street in their provision of aid to Kyiv. He emphasizes the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s intent to uphold the UK’s global power status after Brexit, while noting that the current Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has shown unwavering support for Ukraine.
Rogan also acknowledges President Joe Biden’s well-known caution in avoiding actions that could provoke Putin into a larger conflict involving NATO or the use of Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons stationed in Belarus. However, he suggests that the UK considers this a secondary concern, as supporting a Ukrainian victory would validate its position on the global stage and showcase the enduring strength associated with the legacy of World War II Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Regarding Airman First Class Teixeira, court records indicate that he is confronted with multiple charges associated with the unauthorized removal, possession, and transmission of “national defense information” and classified materials. On May 22, a federal judge ruled that he should remain in custody until his trial due to concerns about his potential flight risk and likelihood to engage in obstructive behavior, exemplified by his destruction of electronic devices (phone, tablet, and computer) when he suspected impending arrest by federal agents.