UK trains 10,000 Ukraine troops in special operation to defeat Putin
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New pictures have given insight into a special British training mission to aid Ukrainian soldiers in their fight against Putin. The pictures show Ukrainian troops taking part in a number of drills while fighting in mock trench warfare. The scheme has so far trained around 10,000 Ukrainian volunteer soldiers. Then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched Operation Interflex in June 2022, the successor to Operation Orbital which trained more than 22,000 Ukrainians between 2015 and May 2022.
Under Operation Interflex, recruits undergo a three-week intensive training programme learning “battle winning skills on the front line, as well as basic medical training, cyber-security and counter explosive tactics.”
During a visit to Kyiv, following the launch of the operation, Boris Johnson said: “My visit today, in the depths of this war, is to send a clear and simple message to the Ukrainian people: the UK is with you, and we will be with you until you ultimately prevail.
“As Ukrainian soldiers fire UK missiles in defence of your nation’s sovereignty, they do so also in defence of the very freedoms we take for granted.
“That is why I have offered President Zelenskyy a major new military training programme that could change the equation of this war–harnessing that most powerful of forces, the Ukrainian determination to win.
“Two months on from my last visit, the Ukrainian grit, determination and resilience is stronger than ever, and I know that unbreakable resolve will long outlive the vain ambitions of President Putin.”
On last week’ visit to Britain, Downing Street pledged to step up delivery of “lethal aid” to Ukraine and said the UK was preparing to “train fighter jet pilots and marines.”
No10 assured that Britain will “upskill a further 20,000 Ukrainian soldiers” in 2023, on top of the 10,000 troops trained under Operation Interflex so far.
Ukrainian troops are also learning how to command Challenger 2 tanks, following the decision to supply Mr Zelenskyy’s forces with the hardware.
The Prime Minister said: “Since 2014, the UK has provided vital training to Ukrainian forces, allowing them to defend their country, protect their sovereignty and fight for their territory.
“I am proud that today we will expand that training from soldiers to marines and fighter jet pilots, ensuring Ukraine has a military able to defend its interests well into the future. It also underlines our commitment to not just provide military equipment for the short term, but a long-term pledge to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine for years to come.”
This comes against a back drop of concern amongst the UK’s NATO partners, that Britain may be depleting its military through its efforts to assist Ukraine as the first anniversary of the Russian invasion approaches.
French parliamentary defence committee president Thomas Gassilloud told the Telegraph that France, due to reasons of “strategic solidarity”, had a vested interest in the strength of the British military.
Mr Gassilloud said: “We want the British to have a strong army. When you have this type of debate it clearly is a source of concern. I have well understood that there is a political context to this regarding the defence budget and if this debate comes now it’s because everyone wants to weigh in on this debate.”
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The MP continued: “One of our criteria for giving away equipment is the condition of not weakening the French military. For example, last week we pledged more Caesar howitzers but these came directly from industry to the Ukrainians and were not taken from army stock.
“I think that all the equipment sent by the British to Ukraine appears to have been taken from army stock. We pay careful attention this is not the case.”
As NATO members express concern over Britain’s military capability, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is expecting to receive a £10billion uplift in the his budget to fight the growing threats posed by Russia and China.
Mr Wallace told Sky News: “Between now and the Budget, I’ve got lots of time and lots of meetings with the Chancellor to make sure that we…come to a deal”.
He conceded, however, that it is an “uphill battle” with the Treasury. The Defence Secretary said he wanted the extra funding to “insulate defence” from inflationary pressures.
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