A number of British soldiers have “disobeyed orders and gone absent without leave” and it is believed they may have travelled to Ukraine amid ongoing conflict with Russia, the British Army has said.

The Army said the missing soldiers may have travelled to Ukraine “in a personal capacity”.

It comes after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said soldiers could be prosecuted for desertion if they travelled to Ukraine to fight against Russian forces.

British service personnel banned from travelling to Ukraine

Ministry of Defence (MoD) chiefs have banned all service personnel from travelling to Ukraine “until further notice” as an Army spokesperson said: “We are strongly encouraging them to return to the UK.”

Explaining the ban, an MoD spokesperson said: “This applies whether the Service Person is on leave or not. Personnel travelling to Ukraine will face disciplinary and administrative consequences.”

The National Wales: Russian invasion of Ukraine.Russian invasion of Ukraine.

UK’ stance on Brits joining Ukraine resistance

The UK’s position on Britons going to join the resistance to Vladimir Putin’s invasion has seen ministers forced to row back on comments from Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who said she would “absolutely” support volunteers who went to Ukraine to fight.

Ministers’ concerns about Britons being caught up in the fighting were underlined by Cabinet minister Grant Shapps, who said it risked creating a “dangerous situation” with the Russians.

Mr Shapps told troops “you cannot just get up and go” after a 19-year-old Coldstream Guard was reportedly among up to four missing British soldiers feared to have travelled to fight Russia.

The Transport Secretary stressed there was a “big difference” between individuals taking the potentially illegal decision and the UK dispatching troops to fight alongside Ukrainians.

Ministers have ruled out such a move over fears it could spark a world war, instead committing to providing defensive weapons to fend off Moscow’s troops.