British military trainers are teaching essential battlefield skills to recruits heading into the fight back home. News brought to us by Cora Engelbrecht who is a reporter and story editor on the International desk of the NY Times, based in London.
KENT, England — Ukrainian recruits waged a mock battle directed by British commanders on Monday in southeast England at a training village designed to resemble the scenes of battle unfolding on the front lines of Ukraine more than a thousand miles away.
A British commander, flanked by a Ukrainian interpreter, shouted orders. Ukrainian conscripts, in camouflage fatigues, traversed a street strewn with grenade canisters, burning debris and overturned cars. A “wounded” man was brought out on a stretcher, moaning.
At the village in Kent, the battles were pretend, but for these soldiers, real ones were probably only weeks away.
“This training in urban areas is exactly what we need,” said Nick, a 25-year-old trainee who offered only a nickname for fear of Russian retaliation.
He was taking part in an ambitious British-led program to provide military training to 10,000 Ukrainian Army recruits and staff, an effort that aims to help bolster local resistance to the Russian invasion.
The initiative, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in June, began with more than a thousand British soldiers from the 11th Security Force Assistance Brigade, which specializes in foreign training. The British trainers have already sent 2,000 Ukrainians to the fight back home.
Other nations, including Canada, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and New Zealand, have pledged to join in after Britain requested help.
The training of troops by foreign powers has long been part of Ukraine’s plan to combat Moscow’s invasion. Before the war, Britain and other Western allies, including the United States, gave extensive training to the Ukrainian military.
The Yavoriv training center, a military base outside the Ukrainian city of Lviv, which was attacked by Russian forces in March, was a hub for troops from Britain, Canada, Latvia, Poland, the United States and other Western nations that had trained Ukrainian forces there since the 1990s.
Britain says it helped train more than 22,000 Ukrainians from 2015 until earlier this year through a program called Operation Orbital. It was paused right before Russia’s invasion.
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A Ukrainian recruit in a mock battle on Monday at a training village in southeast England.Credit...Frank Augstein/Associated Press