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Ben Spann left the UK alongside a number of ex-British Army soldiers, despite the fact that he himself has no military experience whatsoever and no ties to Ukraine.
The 36-year-old didn’t even tell his wife and son that he was leaving before setting off, and spent five days in a ‘safe house’ in western Ukraine, at one stage having a gun pointed at his head by what he describes as a ‘Ukrainian SWAT team’.
Spann, who runs an anti-knife crime charity, told Sky News he believed that heading for Ukraine was the ‘right thing to do’ as he wanted to ‘go there and fight’.
After meeting up with the ex-soldiers in Poland, they crossed the border into Ukraine in the early hours one morning.
On their third day in the safe house, which he likens to a ‘crack den in England’, the property – which had no running water or beds – was raided by soldiers.
He explained: "One of our snipers who opened the door got pinned back into the wall opposite him by two ballistic shields.
"We sat there with AK-47s pointed at our heads for 20-30 minutes, with our hands on our heads, whilst they searched everywhere, and we were being sort of interrogated.
"One lad refused point-blank to turn around. He said: 'If you're going to shoot me, I want you to look me in the eye when you shoot me.' It was a surreal moment.
"Once we managed to defuse the situation, and they understood the reasons we were there, the whole atmosphere changed."
After travelling to a weapons base, passing a checkpoint with two Russian bodies propped up ‘as a warning’ along the way, the group did not receive any guns and ended up back at the safe house.
All the while, Spann was getting ‘real grief’ from his wife and son, who had learned what he’d done.
Of his new comrades, he said: "I became quite close to these guys. We were prepared to go and fight and basically die together, if that was what happened. You quickly form a bond with people in those situations.
"At that point, I was getting some real grief off my wife and my son. My son was doubting whether I even cared about him, why I was doing this – same with my wife."
Considering his options, he realised that travelling further into Ukraine without weapons was ‘a bit of a suicide mission’.
He explained: "As these guys made the decision to venture further into the country, I made the decision to go back to the border."
Spann has now patched things up with his family, who are glad he’s safe. However, he does have regrets about leaving.
"I have no regrets at all for going, but I have regrets for leaving," he said.
"I regret leaving those lads. I don't know how much use I would have been for them, but I feel like I let them down a little bit. I do wish I was still there, to be honest.
"I know they're safe, and they got to their destination safely, so it does make me think I would have been safe, and maybe I shouldn't have left."
Spann also issued a warning to those without military experience who are considering travelling.
He said: "I wouldn't recommend non-military people going out there. I think you can be more of a burden for these guys and the resources they have got out there.
"I would say I would go back – that's probably the ego side of me. The little voice in my head would be thinking I'd be more of a drain on them."
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