Two Reserve Army soldiers may be in Ukraine - NZDF

Source: Radio New Zealand

The New Zealand Defence Force says two Reserve Army soldiers may be in Ukraine, or were there previously.

New Zealand Defence Force (file image).

Following the death of Dominic Abelen, who was killed fighting Russian forces, the military has contacted soldiers on leave without pay to stress they cannot go to Ukraine as per the 'do not travel' advisory.

In a statement, a Defence Force spokesperson said most of the personnel on unpaid leave had been contacted at that time and none were believed to be in Ukraine.

"The NZDF does not independently track the movements of personnel on leave without pay, and has been clear that overseas travel to any destination needs to be reported to the chain of command."

But they said while reviewing the status of those on leave with out pay, they found out that two soldiers, both Lance Corporals, might be in Ukraine, or were there previously.

This was based on information from family and social media, but they could not been independently verify that information, the spokesperson said.

"One soldier resigned from the Regular Force earlier this year and then opted to be in the 'Standby Reserve'. Standby Reserves are not posted to formed units and do not participate in military training.

"The second soldier was an Army Reserve soldier with 5/7 Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (RNZIR), which is one of the Army's reserve infantry battalions."

They say they have no verifiable information about the current status of the two men, including whether they are still in Ukraine nor what they are or were specifically doing there.

Neither solider sought permission to travel to Ukraine, the spokesperson said.

Reserve Force personnel who are not on active duty are not independently tracked by the Defence Force, they said.

More than 2000 of the Defence Force's Reserve Force are in the army.