Since June 2022, more than 32,000 civilians from Ukraine have received military training from the United Kingdom and its partners. This training aims to prepare them to defend their country against the Russian invasion.
Several countries, including Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Romania, have collaborated in this effort, conducting operations at various locations across the UK.
Colonel James Thurstan, the Commander of Operation Interflex responsible for training Ukrainian infantry soldiers, explained that the program focuses on providing basic warfare skills to volunteer recruits with minimal or no military experience.
The training, based on the UK’s basic soldier training, covers weapon handling, battlefield first aid, fieldcraft, patrol tactics, and the Law of Armed Conflict, as outlined by the UK’s Ministry of Defence.
The recruits undergo a five-week training program at five different camps in the UK before returning to Ukraine for immediate deployment to the frontline. Currently, about 3,000 Ukrainians are undergoing various training exercises under Operation Interflex.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 marked the largest attack on a European country since World War II.
It escalated the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War that began in 2014, resulting in tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilian casualties and hundreds of thousands of military casualties by June 2022.
Russian troops occupied approximately 20% of Ukrainian territory, leading to internal displacement of about 8 million Ukrainians and over 8.2 million fleeing the country by April 2023, creating Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II.
Colonel Thurstan emphasized that the training aims to make Ukrainian soldiers more effective in frontline combat, enabling them to be more lethal than their Russian counterparts.
This training not only helps them survive in the conflict but also instills a defensive spirit to ultimately win the war and establish international boundaries.
Since the invasion in February 2022, the UK government has committed significant support to Ukraine, ranking as the second-largest military donor with a commitment of £2.3 billion in 2022 and an additional £2.3 billion in 2023.
In October 2023, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps announced a substantial new package of equipment support for Ukraine, valued at over £100 million.
This includes air defense systems, essential equipment for crossing minefields, and bridging capabilities to assist with river and trench crossings.