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Ukrainian soldiers have arrived in Britain for a new military training program as Western nations look to further aid Kyiv in the war against Russia, UK officials said Saturday.
The program, first proposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his second surprise trip to Kyiv last month, will train up to 10,000 new “volunteer recruits” who have little to no military experience and provide the skills needed to engage Russian forces on the battlefield.
On the first day of Russia’s invasion in February Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy enforced martial law that would require all men ages 18-60 to remain in Ukraine and join its fighting forces if called upon.
Ukraine had nearly 197,000 active military personnel along with another 900,000 reservists already trained up and ready to engage Russian troops.
But as the war continues for the fifth month and Ukrainian officials warn they are losing between 100 and 200 soldiers every 24 hours, Western nations have looked to new methods to support Kyiv.
“This ambitious new training program is the next phase in the UK’s support to the Armed Forces of Ukraine in their fight against Russian aggression,” Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said after visiting the training grounds this week. “Using the world-class expertise of the British Army we will help Ukraine to rebuild its forces and scale-up its resistance as they defend their country’s sovereignty and their right to choose their own future.”
The new recruits will engage in a “several weeks long” training program similar to that of the UK’s basic soldier training and will learn skills relating to “weapons handling, battlefield first aid, fieldcraft, patrol tactics and the Law of Armed Conflict.”
Though the program will vary from the typical UK basic training course as Ukrainian soldiers will be trained up on AK variant assault rifles so that they can be instructed on weaponry that they will actually utilize on the front lines.
“This effort was supported by the Welsh Guards, who tested more than 2,400 such rifles in 17 days to ensure they were ready for the Ukrainians to commence their training,” the UK Ministry of Defense said in a statement Saturday.
The UK government has also agreed to not only supply the training equipment but will fit each soldier with supplies that they will then head back to Ukraine with.
Each newly trained Ukrainian servicemen will be issued personal protective equipment to include body armor, pelvic protection, helmets, ear and eye protective equipment and individual first aid kits.
Field uniforms, boots, cold and wet weather clothing, ponchos, tactical webbing, backpacks, sacks, sleeping bags and entrenching tools will also be provided in coordination with Ukrainian field conditions.