UK further expands training of Ukrainian armed forces
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has outlined plans to expand its programme of training for Ukrainian Armed Forces, currently battling pro-Russian insurgents in the eastern parts of the country.
As part of a package announced in February this year, UK troops have already provided medical, infantry, logistics, and tactical intelligence training to 650 Ukrainian soldiers since March.
Approximately 250 personnel will now be trained in August alone in additional infantry, medical, and survival skills.
Speaking at the Nato Ministerial meeting in Brussels, Belgium, UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the UK led Nato Trust Fund will provide 200 secure communication devices worth nearly £3m to Ukrainian soldiers to improve their situational awareness and lower casualties.
Co-chaired with Germany and Canada, the fund will also finance a regional airspace security programme designed to allow Ukraine to share air traffic information with its neighbours.
The latest support package comes days after Britain committed to providing 1,000 soldiers to Nato's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) every year until the next decade.
Additionally, the UK Royal Air Force Typhoon jets will be deployed for Baltic Air Policing in 2016, for the consecutive third year.
Fallon said: "This stepping up of what has been a highly successful training scheme will mean more Ukrainian soldiers receiving vital training that will help them resist Russian aggression.
"Alongside our new commitment to provide troops to the Nato's new rapid reaction force and our decision to extend our contribution of British Typhoons to protect Baltic airspace, it shows that Britain stands at the heart of Nato and continues to support Ukraine's territorial integrity."
In addition to the Ukrainian support package, Fallon also pledged £750,000 towards both building Nato and partners' strategic communications capacity. A British strategic communications expert will be deployed to Georgia to support this work.
The funding supports Nato's commitment to step up efforts to counter Russia's sophisticated use of misinformation during the ongoing Ukrainian crisis.
Britain is set to lead the VJTF Brigade with an enhanced contribution of up to 3,000 soldiers, including the Brigade Headquarters, armoured infantry and light role infantry battlegroups, plus communications, reconnaissance, intelligence, combat support and logistic elements, in 2017.
Image: UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon with US Defence Secretary Ash Carter during the Nato Defence ministerial meeting in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: courtesy of Nato.