Photos show Ukrainian soldiers getting trained to fight Russians in a mock village in England

  • Since Russia launched its invasion, thousands of Ukrainian soldiers have been trained in the UK.

  • Part of their training involves preparing for urban warfare in a mock village.

  • Business Insider visited the training ground in southern England.

In the two years since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian soldiers, both new recruits and experienced troops, have been receiving training in the UK, from the British military and its allies.

The training, which covers multiple types of combat and first aid, also includes urban warfare, which takes place in a mock village in the English countryside.

Business Insider visited the training site where experienced Ukrainian soldiers were being put through their paces.

Ukrainian soldiers are sent to the UK for training.

Ukrainian soldiers in combat gear hold firearms beside a brick building as they look at a military official giving instructionsUkrainian soldiers in combat gear hold firearms beside a brick building as they look at a military official giving instructions

Ukrainian soldiers get instructions during a training exercise at a camp in southern England.Carolina Rapezzi for BI

As of November 2023, more than 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been trained in the UK since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022.

Part of their training involves preparing for urban warfare.

Image of a soldier holding a blue prop grenade in hand.Image of a soldier holding a blue prop grenade in hand.

A Ukrainian recruit handling a prop grenade before a training session.Carolina Rapezzi for BI

Lt. Col. Wilson told BI that urban warfare training has been a “fundamental part” of the training given to Ukrainian soldiers since Operation Interflex began.

He said this is included in general infantry training but “it becomes more pertinent now when we talk in the context of the battleground in Ukraine.”

At the request of UK Ministry of Defence, the officers featured in this article are only referred to by their surnames.

Much of the fight in Ukraine has taken place in urban areas.

Ukrainian soldiers move in combat gear and holding firearms move along a road that passes through grey brick buildings with red and green roofs under a grey skyUkrainian soldiers move in combat gear and holding firearms move along a road that passes through grey brick buildings with red and green roofs under a grey sky

Ukrainian soldiers move through a mock village as part of the training exercise.Carolina Rapezzi for BI

Much of the fighting in Ukraine has taken place in towns, villages, and cities.

Wilson told BI that the mock village is frequently used by the British Army, in “everything from low-level training courses to being an objective on a combined arms maneuver battle group attack.”

The training includes moving through the village and learning how best to take control of it.

Three Ukrainian soldiers holding firearms and each others' soldiers move in a line in front of a brick building and a grey skyThree Ukrainian soldiers holding firearms and each others' soldiers move in a line in front of a brick building and a grey sky

Three Ukrainian soldiers move in a training exercise at camp in southern EnglandCarolina Rapezzi for BI

Urban warfare instructions include when and how to cover windows, when to advance and in what order, how to cover each other, which soldier is most at risk at any moment, and what speed to move at.

Soldiers also train in just the outlines of buildings so their movements can be seen and studied.

View of the training camp from open windowView of the training camp from open window

Ukrainian soldiers at a UK training camp in southern England.Carolina Rapezzi for BI

Training officers put orange tape on the ground to represent buildings’ walls, allowing soldiers’ movements to be more visible than if they trained inside.

The military training also covers other combat techniques, like drone, mine, trench warfare, battlefield first aid, and patrol tactics.

Soldiers said the training is beneficial despite their experience fighting.

A Ukrainian solider holds a firearm inside a dark room as he looks at a figure giving instructionsA Ukrainian solider holds a firearm inside a dark room as he looks at a figure giving instructions

A Ukrainian soldier gets instructions during a training session.Carolina Rapezzi for BI

The UK trains both new Ukrainian recruits and soldiers who have already been fighting Russia.

The soldiers that BI observed and spoke to were experienced men taking part in a 10-week program.

They said that despite their deep firsthand experience fighting, the training was still able to improve their skills and allowed them to exchange techniques.

Artem, 31, has been part of Ukraine’s national guard since 2015, the year after proxy fighting with Russia started in Ukraine’s east.

He said he was still able to learn some “new drills and skills from the UK Army.”

Another soldier, callsign Local, said his aim “is to exchange the knowledge and all skills I have, and speak about combat activities I get during the real fight.”

The UK military said training is collaborative, with Ukrainian troops also sharing tactics.

A view of the arm of a Ukrainian solider in uniform that has two patches, one that shows the Ukrainian flag and one that shows half of a Ukrainian flag and half of the UK flagA view of the arm of a Ukrainian solider in uniform that has two patches, one that shows the Ukrainian flag and one that shows half of a Ukrainian flag and half of the UK flag

A patch on a Ukrainian soldier’s arm that incorporates the Ukrainian and British flags.Carolina Rapezzi for BI

Lt. Col. Davidson told BI that as the trainers in the UK teach their doctrine to Ukrainian troops, the Ukrainian troops also offer their methods and experiences fighting Russia.

He said this is “benefiting” their soldiers and junior officers who hear those conversations: “They’re actually doubling their education.”

He said that as the UK and its allies train Ukrainians, “we’re learning as much off of them as they are off of us.”

The training focuses on areas Ukraine says it needs.

A Ukrainian solder wearing combat gear and a balaclava sits inside the door of a brick buildingA Ukrainian solder wearing combat gear and a balaclava sits inside the door of a brick building

A Ukrainian soldier rests at a camp in southern England.Carolina Rapezzi for BI

Davidson said Ukraine is “involved the entire way through it. So we only do what they need.”

Wilson added that the training can change “with immediate effects” based on what Ukraine says is happening on the battlefield: “Things that are happening on the battlefield today, yesterday, we were able to implement some of those changes really quickly.”

Soldiers taking part said they have to fight back against Russia.

A close up image of a Ukrainian soldiers' hands held together behind his backA close up image of a Ukrainian soldiers' hands held together behind his back

A Ukrainian soldier’s hands during a training exercise in southern England.Carolina Rapezzi for BI

Artem said he has to fight for his country and his seven-year-old daughter.

“I am a Ukrainian, this is my land and my young daughter is waiting for me,” he told BI. “I don’t want this horrible life for her.”

Local also said he has to fight for Ukraine: “We have to do it because it’s our mission to have the flag of Ukraine on our territories, to see our flag, to see our fields, to see our home.”

They both urged Ukraine’s allies to continue offering support, repeating warnings made by multiple European leaders that if Russia is not defeated in Ukraine it may attack elsewhere in Europe next.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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