British weapons are giving Ukrainian troops the “confidence” to win the war against Russia, an army major training in the UK has said.
Soldiers from the war-torn country have travelled to Salisbury Plain, where they are being taught how to fire weapons including long-range rockets. During a course this week, Ukrainian troops were singing Rule, Britannia! as they learnt.
The Ukrainian officer, who did not want to be named for security reasons, said his troops were “really tired”, but learning to use the new kit was motivating them for the next fight.
More than 400 Ukrainian soldiers are at the training ground in Wiltshire. Some had been manning tanks on the front line but have turned their hand to artillery after their vehicles were destroyed. They are being taught to use the M270 multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS) to defend themselves from long-range artillery.
The new weapons have been donated to them by Britain and enable them to hit targets at a range of up to 50 miles. They are learning to use the MLRS in 21 days by working seven days a week rather than the standard five days so that they can head back to war sooner.
Speaking on Salisbury Plain as the training took place, the major said: “We will win. We are confident we will have the possibility to win using this system.” He said the MLRS was much better than Ukrainian alternatives, which could hit targets only at a much shorter range.
“It is about its mobility and speed and accuracy of these systems and the survivability of all Ukrainian troops,” he said. Asked what it was like to be away from Ukraine at the moment, he said his troops were “ready to return back” to resume fighting. He said: “They understand we are here preparing to improve and get better. A month ago all of us Ukrainian guys who are here right now were on the battlefield.” He added that at the start of the war they had been a “bit scared, but now they are just tired”.
Thanking the British for the training, he said: “In the same way, they are so motivated to continue the struggle.”
Captain James Oliphant, 43, who is training Ukrainians on the MLRS, said teaching them had been an “honour”.
Others soldiers are being taught how to fire the 105mm L119 light gun — a towed howitzer — and are receiving training from both the British Army and the New Zealand Defence Force. A few dozen are also learning air defence techniques, while others are being taught surveillance.
Rebecca Bullock, 40, a warrant officer, 1st class in the Royal Artillery, is training some of the personnel on the light guns. She said: “They know that their window of learning is reasonably short, so their motivation to get as much knowledge as they possibly can has been noted. They want to go back as soon as possible.” She said that the troops had not talked about the war in Ukraine, other than to say “they must be faster” in their fight to defeat the Russians. She said they rarely took breaks and their drive to learn was “incredible. They just work, work, work.”