British diplomat at centre of safeguarding UK Mission in Kyiv awarded degree in terrorism studies

Friday 16 June 2023

A St Andrews Masters student who has spent the last year working as a diplomat safeguarding the British embassy team in Kyiv, while the city came under regular aerial bombardment, was finally awarded an MLitt in Terrorism and Political Violence today (Friday 16 June).

Paul Fryer – a Sniper with the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment before working in frontline Close Protection operations – undertook the degree mostly by distance learning and was unable to graduate in 2021 as planned.

In late April 2022 he was tasked by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Security Directorate to lead on security in Ukraine as Overseas Security Manager.

Commenting on one of his first tasks after arriving in Kyiv just a few months after the full-scale Russian invasion, Paul said: “Reporting directly to London, my role was to understand the situation and advise His Majesty’s Ambassador on the best ways to ensure safety for the embassy team to operate in Kyiv.

“Several embassies were only just starting to return to normal business after the initial evacuation and, like us, only had a handful of diplomats in the country.

“After gaining a critical understanding of the threat, I developed and recommended realistic guidance to keep colleagues safe. For example, I established control measures, including the ‘neighbourhood’ where our diplomats could conduct their work safely while remaining local to home should they need to return quickly. This was replicated by other embassies. I updated this guidance on a regular basis – liaising with partners across the international community and government as the threat continued to evolve.”

Paul added: “My key success has been reopening the embassy and enabling the team to conduct their work in-country in as safe an environment as possible. This was no mean feat in a post-invasion environment with an unprecedented threat from a near-peer enemy.

“For the past 12 months, I have guided British and Ukrainian staff through cruise missile and drone attacks and, most recently, attacks on central Kyiv using hypersonic ballistic missiles. Part of my role was to update and advise, to ensure staff safety while empowering country-based colleagues to help them make more informed decisions for themselves and their families.

“In the month of May, we had 20 protracted attacks on central Kyiv, 19 of which happened during the night – hence a full night’s sleep quickly became a luxury.”

Paul, whose partner Abigail Kemp is the UK lead on Human Rights in Ukraine, said: “I’m proud of the work that I have done, enabling my colleagues and team to deliver the UK Government’s top foreign policy priorities in unprecedented circumstances and an ever-evolving threat landscape. This has been the highlight of my career to date, and a true privilege to lead on this at such a significant time in history.”

Commenting on achieving his MLitt seven years after starting it, Paul said the St Andrews course was recommended to him by his former Commanding Officer from 2 Para, who was a General in Whitehall at the time, who also vouched for him. And although Paul had no undergraduate degree, he was accepted on the basis of his operational experience.

“Choosing to undertake my studies late in life worked for me, although it wasn’t easy balancing work, life and studies.

“I’m incredibly proud to have completed the course with St Andrews. Higher education is fundamental to success and accessible at any point in your career.”

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

Category Student experience

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