Ukrainian sailors trained in Scotland to fight Russia
The Royal Navy is training Ukrainian sailors in Scotland in an attempt to support Kiev in its fight with Russia, the British military said on Friday.
The exercises were attended by Vladimir Gavrilov, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, and UK Armed Forces Minister James Heappey. The exact location of the drill is undisclosed for security reasons.
The ministers observed the sailors practicing key skills at sea, learning weapon drills, damage control and how to operate machinery on vessels.
According to the Navy, 80 Ukrainian servicemen are receiving “comprehensive, expert instruction.” At the same time, the UK intends to sell Kiev two soon-to-be-retired Sandown-class minehunters.
“We really need them to support Ukrainian efforts in the Black sea for the mining. It’s also a part of humanitarian mission which is very important to the world,” Gavrilov said.
“The intensity with which the Ukrainian soldiers and sailors are training is something to behold. They work with the focus of troops who know they’ll be fighting in a war in just a few short weeks’ time,” Heappey added.
The Royal Navy’s participation in the exercise is part of a UK-led military program that involves more than 1,000 British service personnel in various regions of the country. The drill is supposed to give volunteer recruits, that have limited military experience, the skills to perform in frontline combat.
The joint exercises come as the UK decided to send another batch of anti-tank weapons, drones, artillery guns as well as tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition to Ukraine. Earlier, London also provided Kiev with financial support to the tune of £2.3 billion ($2.76 billion) to help the nation fight off Russia’s offensive.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.