May 21, 2024

Ukrainian soldiers train in a mock village in the UK for urban combat: photos

A Ukrainian conscript during outdoor training at a camp in southern England.
Carolina Rapzi for BI

  • Since Russia launched its invasion, thousands of Ukrainian soldiers have been trained in the UK.
  • Part of their training includes preparing for urban warfare in a mock village.
  • Business Insider visited the training ground in southern England.

In the past 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 Army and its allies.

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

Business Insider visited the training site where experienced Ukrainian soldiers are being trained.

Ukrainian soldiers are sent to the UK for training.

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

As of November 2023, more than 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been trained in the UK since the start of the large-scale Russian invasion in February 2022.

Part of their training includes preparing for urban warfare.

A Ukrainian recruit handles a grenade before a training session.
Carolina Rapzi for BI

First Lieutenant. Colonel Wilson told BI that urban warfare training had been an “essential part” of the training provided to Ukrainian soldiers since the start of Operation Interflex.

He said this falls into general infantry training but “becomes even more important now when we talk in the context of the battlefield in Ukraine.”

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

Much of the fighting in Ukraine has occurred in urban areas.

Ukrainian soldiers move through a mock village as part of training exercises.
Carolina Rapzi 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, for “everything from low-level training courses to being the target of a combined arms maneuver attack.”

Training involves moving through the village and learning how best to control it.

Three Ukrainian soldiers move in training at a camp in southern England
Carolina Rapzi 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 vulnerable at any given moment, and how quickly to move.

Soldiers also practice on the outlines of buildings only so that their movements can be seen and studied.

Ukrainian soldiers at a British training camp in southern England.
Carolina Rapzi for BI

Training officers place orange tape on the ground to represent the walls of buildings, allowing the soldiers' movements to be more visible than if they were training indoors.

Military training also covers other combat techniques, such as drones, mines, trench warfare, battlefield first aid, and patrol tactics.

The soldiers said the training was useful despite their combat experience.

A Ukrainian soldier receives instructions during a training session.
Carolina Rapzi for BI

The UK is training new Ukrainian conscripts and soldiers already fighting Russia.

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The soldiers that BI observed and spoke to were experienced men who had participated in a 10-week program.

They said that despite their profound direct experience in combat, the training was still able to improve their skills and allowed them to exchange techniques.

Artem, 31, has been part of the Ukrainian National Guard since 2015, a year after proxy fighting with Russia began in eastern Ukraine.

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

Another soldier, Callsign Local, said his goal “is to share the knowledge and all the skills I have, and talk about the combat activities I do during real combat.”

The British Army said the training is being conducted collaboratively, with Ukrainian forces also sharing tactics.

A patch on the arm of a Ukrainian soldier includes the Ukrainian and British flags.
Carolina Rapzi for BI

First Lieutenant. While UK trainers teach their doctrine to Ukrainian forces, Ukrainian forces are also offering their methods and experience fighting Russia, Colonel Davidson told BI.

This “benefits” their soldiers and junior officers who listen to those conversations, he said: “They actually double their education.”

He said that while the UK and its allies were training the Ukrainians, “we are learning as much from them as they are learning about us.”

The training focuses on areas Ukraine says it needs.

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

Davidson said Ukraine is “all in on it. So we're just doing what they need.”

Wilson added that training could change with “immediate impacts” based on what Ukraine says is happening on the battlefield: “The things that are happening on the battlefield today, yesterday, we were able to implement some of those changes very quickly.”

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The participating soldiers said they had to fight against Russia.

The hand of a Ukrainian soldier during training in southern England.
Carolina Rapzi for BI

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

He told the BBC: “I am Ukrainian, this is my country and my little daughter is waiting for me.” “I don't want her to have this terrible life.”

Mahli also said he had to fight for Ukraine: “We have to do it because our mission is to put the Ukrainian flag on our lands, to see our flag, to see our fields, to see our homeland.”

They both urged Ukraine's allies to continue providing support, echoing warnings by several European leaders that if Russia is not defeated in Ukraine it may attack elsewhere in Europe next.