Boris Johnson has praised British journalists who were hit by bullets in Ukraine and said press reporting on the conflict “will not be intimidated or cowed”.
The prime minister commended the “astonishing” courage of the Sky News journalists, who he said were “putting themselves in terrifying and dangerous situations”.
Stuart Ramsay, the broadcaster’s chief correspondent, was hit by a bullet in his lower back when a car carrying him and a crew towards Kyiv was shot at on Monday. The camera operator Richie Mockler was hit with two rounds to his body armour.
After managing to escape and take cover they were later rescued by Ukrainian police. Afterwards, they were told by Ukrainians that they had been ambushed by a saboteur Russian reconnaissance squad.
The entire crew, which also included Dominique van Heerden and Martin Vowles from Sky News and local producer Andrii Lytvynenko, are now safe.
Footage of the incident, showing the team under heavy fire while glass smashed around them, was played on Sky News on Friday.
“The courage of these journalists, putting themselves in terrifying and dangerous situations, is astonishing to watch. They’re risking their lives to ensure that the truth is told,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “Free press will not be intimidated or cowed by barbaric and indiscriminate acts of violence.”
In a written account of the attack, Ramsay said his team had been on their way to the town of Bucha to report on the destruction of a Russian convoy by the Ukrainian army the previous day.
Their journey was just under 20 miles (30km) from the centre of Kyiv but, held up by road closures and redirections, it took hours.
At the last Ukrainian checkpoint they were advised not to travel further so they decided to turn around. But after they were given the go-ahead by a police officer, they cautiously drove towards an intersection when “out of nowhere” there was a “small explosion”.
Ramsay said that a tyre burst, the car stopped and “our entire world turned upside down”.
“The first round cracked the windscreen. Camera operator Richie Mockler huddled into the front passenger footwell. Then we were under full attack,” he said.
“Bullets cascaded through the whole of the car, tracers, bullet flashes, windscreen glass, plastic seats, the steering wheel, and dashboard had disintegrated.
“We didn’t know it at the time, but we were later told by the Ukrainians that we were being ambushed by a saboteur Russian reconnaissance squad. It was professional, the rounds kept smashing into the car – they didn’t miss.”
Thinking that perhaps a Ukrainian army checkpoint might be responsible for the shooting, some of them stepped out of the car to explain that they were journalists. But the bullets continued. “I do recall wondering if my death was going to be painful,” Ramsay said.
After being hit by a bullet in the lower back, he was told that he got out of the car and started running but lost his balance and fell. “Landing like a sack of potatoes, cutting my face. My armour and helmet almost certainly saved me,” he said.
The team managed to get to a factory unit where they took cover and were later rescued by police.
The Sky News crew members have since returned to the UK and Lytvynenko is with his family in Ukraine.
“We were very lucky,” Ramsay said. “But thousands of Ukrainians are dying, and families are being targeted by Russian hit squads just as we were, driving along in a family saloon and attacked. This war gets worse by the day.”