Before joining the battlefield in their country, Ukrainian civilians train in the English countryside, in the south of the UK, with the weapons handling and first aid training program as well as combat simulation.
More than 5,700 have already completed the training and returned to Ukraine since the program was announced in June, the Defense Ministry said.
In total, Britain, which has provided significant military aid to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, has offered to train 19,000 Ukrainian civilians on its soil.
When the AFP visited the training site on Tuesday near Durrington (South), none of the recruits present had military experience.
They took part in marksmanship and first aid exercises on the battlefield, as part of their five weeks of training designed to make them soldiers.
Among these future soldiers, a former engineer who now goes by the code name Panda.
“Before the invasion I was a normal civilian. But afterwards it was no longer possible, I could no longer live as a civilian. So I joined the ranks of the Ukrainian armed forces,” he told AFP.
“Our British and Ukrainian instructors gave us tactical, medical and psychological training. They taught us the international law of warfare,” this Ukrainian explained. “I’m ready to hit the battlefield and practice everything I’ve learned.”
The training is based on initial British infantry training.
It is aimed at recruits with little or no military experience.
More than 1,000 members of the British Army, Royal Air Force, Navy participate in the program.
Canada, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand have especially joined the formation.
“The two most important skills we have to teach them is how to survive on a battlefield and also how to get the most casualties in close combat,” said Lt. Col. Kempley Buchan-Smith, commander of the Fifth Battalion. Rifles.
“The training program covers a wide range of operations. Obviously, defensive operations are one aspect, but as you can see from the progress Ukraine is making in the eastern part of the country right now, we have changed the nature of the program to be more offensive . So they are fully prepared to continue this progress,” added the lieutenant colonel.
“Training is necessary, especially in such a difficult and unpredictable situation. It is essential and very valuable for every soldier,” said one of the Ukrainian officers overseeing the training, which goes by the code name Neptun.
Each soldier goes back to Ukraine with equipment. About 195,000 items have been donated so far, including helmets, clothing, boots, sleeping bags.
Since 2015, British troops have trained more than 22,000 members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
This training for civilians “represents a logical step in UK aid to Ukraine”, according to the Ministry of Defence.
The United Kingdom “has pledged to provide military aid to Ukraine to the value of 2.3 billion pounds (2.62 billion euros), more than any other country except the United States,” this ministry reminds.