Ukrainian recruits are trained in the UK

Ukrainian recruits are trained in the UK

BRITISH ARMY BASE, England (AP) – A few weeks ago, Serhiy was a business analyst at an IT company. Zakhar was a civil engineer. Now they are soldiers training to liberate Ukraine from Russian invasion – but they are doing so more than 1,000 miles away in Britain.

They are among several hundred Ukrainian recruits undergoing an intensive form of infantry training at an army base in south-east England. A group of the 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers that the British military has pledged to train over 120 days are spending several weeks learning skills such as marksmanship, battlefield first aid and – crucial to their country’s future – urban warfare.

As Ukrainians practice evictions amid the crackle of gunfire and smoke grenades in a recreated cityscape where British soldiers once trained for operations in Northern Ireland, they contemplate driving Russian troops off the streets of their own cities.

“The most important part is urban training because it’s the most dangerous fight in cities,” said Serhiy, who, like the other Ukrainians, didn’t want his full name used for security reasons. “The British trainers have a lot of experience, from Iraq, Afghanistan. We can adapt all this knowledge to the Ukrainian situation and use it to free our country from Russian invasion.”

British instructors put Ukrainian troops through a condensed version of British Army infantry training, covering weapon handling, first aid, patrol tactics and conflict law. The aim is to turn raw recruits into battle-ready soldiers within a few weeks. The first batch arrived last month and has already been sent back to replenish the depleted Ukrainian units.

“We run a basic infantry course that takes Ukrainian recruits and teaches them to shoot well, move well in any tactical environment, and communicate and handle well,” said Maj. Craig Hutton, an officer in the Scots Guards. who in supervising the training.

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Hutton says many of Ukraine’s troops have little military experience, but “they are so motivated. They have a fantastic will to learn and just want to practice, practice and practice some more.”

More than 1,000 UK personnel are involved in the training mission, which is taking place at four bases in the UK. Other countries also send coaches, including Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the Nordic nations.

Britain is sending Ukrainians home with new uniforms, body armour, helmets and other gear, part of British military aid worth £2.3 billion ($2.8 billion) to the country, which also includes anti-tank missiles and sophisticated missile launch systems .

Zakhar, the former engineer, said it was difficult to leave Ukraine as fighting raged in the eastern Donbass region and the south.

“I left my parents. I left my brothers and sisters, my relatives, to gain knowledge and experience that will help me… to rid our territory of occupiers and invaders,” he said through an interpreter.

Serhiy, the former IT worker, has been in uniform for less than a month and is just as determined.

“I know Ukrainian soldiers are dying to protect our homes. So it’s hard to know I’m not with them,” he said. “But the Ukrainian army only needs professional soldiers, so I’m ready to train as hard as possible to be ready for the upcoming battle.”

Brigadier Justin Stenhouse, who is in charge of training to become the commander of the 11th Security Assistance Brigade, said seeing the Ukrainians’ motivation was “humbling”.

But he conceded that preparing for the chaos of urban combat is “almost impossible in training.” The goal of the mission, he said, is to “train them so they can adapt to survive those first few weeks of combat.”

“They will learn more in the first few weeks of fighting than we can give them here,” he said.


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