UK Expands Its Program to Train Ukrainian ‘Citizen Soldiers’ Amid Russian Special Operation
07:45 GMT 05.09.2022 (Updated: 15:20 GMT 28.05.2023)
In June, outgoing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson proposed an initiative to provide Ukrainian rookies with basic military training to counter Russian troops. Johnson also urged other nations in the Joint Expeditionary Force and Canada to join the program.
The UK is expanding its program to train Ukrainian forces as Russia continues its special military operation in Ukraine, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace
Sky News cited Wallace as saying that the training course had "developed rapidly, and we are now extending it [from three weeks] to five weeks to provide the best possible preparation for Ukrainian soldiers who will soon be in active combat operations."
The defense secretary added that “meeting those citizen soldiers and witnessing first-hand their courage and determination is a humbling experience.”
He spoke several weeks after Canada, Sweden and Finland sent their first groups of military instructors to provide training for Ukrainian forces, in line with a previous initiative by outgoing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Meeting Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev in mid-June, BoJo offered to launch a training program for Ukrainian forces, with the potential to train up to 10,000 soldiers every 120 days. He urged other nations in the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) and Canada to join the initiative.
The JEF, which was launched in 2014, is a UK-led expeditionary force that includes Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway.
25 August 2022, 14:10 GMT
The program initially stipulated that each soldier would spend three weeks in the training course, “learning battle-winning skills for the front line, as well as basic medical training, cyber-security and counter explosive tactics.”
According to No 10, the program will “train and drill the Armed Forces of Ukraine using battle-proven British Army expertise, allowing them to accelerate their deployment, rebuild their forces, and scale-up their resistance” to Russian troops.
Britain has delivered hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of military equipment and training support to Ukraine since 2014, including through the secret “Operation Orbital”, over the course of which more than 22,000 Ukrainian troops were trained in the use of portable anti-tank missiles and other weapons.
Currently, the UK remains the second-largest supplier of weaponry to Ukraine after the US, providing Kiev with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, as well as missile boats, armored vehicles, and long-range artillery.
The Russian Defense Ministry has repeatedly warned that the UK would evoke an "immediate and proportional response" from Moscow if it continued to provoke Kiev into launching attacks on Russian soil using British-made weapons, amid Russia’s special operation
The operation to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24 following the Donbass republics’ request to protect them from Kiev.