LONDON – Save Private Grant. Indeed, it was Ben Grant, 30, a former British soldier and veteran of the war in Afghanistan, who saved another: Dean Arthur, a former member of the Royal Guard in London and wounded in Ukraine by a Russian mine, in a dramatic video obtained by the Telegraph which shows how Grant, Arthur and other Western volunteers, all fighters alongside Ukrainian soldiers, fall under Russian fire north of Kharkiv, a city recently taken from Moscow’s control.
“Let’s get moving, or we’ll all die!” Ben yells in the cutscene. But he is not just any warrior. Ben is the son of Helen Grant, a Conservative MP at Westminster and Johnson’s government special envoy for women’s education. Grant said nothing to his parliamentary mother and father Simon before leaving for Ukraine: “It has nothing to do with the British army, I’m out of it, it’s my moral duty as a citizen.”
A gaffe by the British Foreign Minister at the beginning of the invasion had troubled Whitehall: “If British volunteers want to go to Ukraine to fight Putin, so be it”, ventured Liz Truss, before being censored by the Foreign Office itself. In the meantime, dozens, possibly hundreds of British volunteers like Ben Grant have left.
The video is distressing because it shows Grant and 13 other British and American fighters with two Ukrainian translators, a couple of weeks ago, being attacked with artillery, helicopters and shells by the Russians. Westerners respond, fire rockets at the former Soviet tanks, manage to get out of the encirclement. But the mine that exploded tears apart the comrade’s leg. “Come on, Deano! You can do it, brother, one last effort!” Grant yells to his wounded comrade. And together with the other volunteers he manages to rescue Arthur, 42 years old from Stock-on-Trent, now hospitalized in the Kiev hospital who saved his leg. “I’m fine”, he assures now, “and I’m honored to be here. Ukrainians are heroes.”
“It’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to me in the war,” says Grant, “I was terrified. But I did my duty.” Concerned about her fate as a child, Helen Grant does not comment. While Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, two British volunteers enlisted in Ukraine and captured by the Russians a month and a half ago, face the death penalty.
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