Published 21 November 2023

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DE&S has supported the training of more than 30,000 ordinary Ukrainian men and women to become soldiers under the largest military training programme of its kind on British soil since the Second World War.

Ahead of schedule, the UK-led Op Interflex reached the milestone of 30,000 recruits trained in the UK since June 2022 – taking the total number of trained Ukrainian soldiers to more than 52,000 since Russia launched its first invasion of Ukraine in 2014.

DE&S teams sourced, procured and supplied all the kit and equipment for the recruits as well as coordinating leadership and medical courses for the Ukrainians.

Delivered in locations throughout the UK, the world-leading programme takes volunteer recruits who have joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine with little to no previous military experience and teaches them the skills required to survive and be effective in frontline combat.

The training allows Ukraine’s forces to accelerate their deployments, rebuild their forces, and scale-up their resistance as they continue to defend their nation’s sovereignty against Russian invaders.

After launching last summer, a number of international partner forces joined the programme, providing vital experience, training and insight into frontline combat. These countries include Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Lithuania, The Netherlands and Australia and Romania.

The course is delivered over a minimum period of five weeks and includes weapons handling, battlefield first aid, Law of Armed Conflict training, patrol tactics and rural environment training. During the past 12 months, the UK’s wider package of support has also evolved to include upskilling Ukrainian Marines, with British Commandos training Ukraine’s forces in small boat amphibious operations, as well as mine-clearance training by the Royal Engineers, trauma response training and even Army chaplaincy support for Ukrainian padres.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

“I am incredibly proud of all the British and Ukrainian soldiers, sailors, airmen and women involved in this major undertaking – their dedication and professionalism today is ensuring peace for our continent in the future.

“Op Interflex has changed the equation of this war, harnessing Ukraine’s spirit, courage and determination, and matching it with global military expertise.”

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“Op Interflex’s size and ambition is unrivalled, the programme is a key example of how the UK can help galvanise the international community into supporting the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

“I’m delighted we will exceed the target for this year and thank the UK trainers and our international partners who have worked night and day to reach the milestone ahead of schedule. I also pay tribute to the determination and resilience of the brave Ukrainian recruits that arrive on British shores.”

Commander Interflex, Col James Thurstan said:

“The UK and international partner forces are working hard to provide Ukrainian recruits with the skillsets needed to defend their sovereign territory.

“We work closely with the Armed Forces of Ukraine to ensure that the capabilities provided to them meet the tactical demands of the conflict as it evolves.”

Head of the Main Department of Doctrine and Training of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Major General Oleksii Taran said:

“Ukrainian Defense Forces highly appreciate and are grateful to the United Kingdom, its nation and government for the opportunity to train Ukrainian personnel at British military bases as part of the multinational training Operation Interflex.

“This is undoubtedly an impressive contribution of Great Britain and partner countries in Ukraine’s fight against the unprovoked and criminal Russian aggression.”