How UK-led Operation Interflex has Trained 32,000 Ukrainian Recruits against Russian Invasion 

How UK-led Operation Interflex has Trained 32,000 Ukrainian Recruits against Russian Invasion 

…Says war will stop once Russia withdraws troops from Ukraine

Chiemelie Ezeobi in South of England

Following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022, over 32,000 Ukrainian recruits have undergone military training since June of that year in Operation Interflex, the United Kingdom government-led enduring commitment to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s unprovoked invasion.

With 11 partner nations like United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Romania, Operation Interflex was tailored to train Ukrainian recruits by providing them basic infantry training skills to be deployed at the front lines. 

The five weeks course that runs the gamut of basic infantry courses covers weapon-handling, battlefield first aid, fieldcraft, patrol tactics, the Law of Armed Conflict and other skills needed to be effective in frontline combat.

The recruits are trained for five weeks in five different camps in the UK by military  instructors drawn from partner nations like Australia, New Zealand and others, before returning to Ukraine for immediate deployment to the frontline.

According to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), its government has also gifted clothing and equipment to support Ukrainian soldiers in their training and deployment back to Ukraine. 

After the training, each soldier will be issued with personal protective equipment including helmet, body armour, eye protectors, ear protectors, pelvic protection, and individual first aid kits.

They would also be given field uniform and boots; cold and wet weather clothing; Bergen, day sack and webbing; 

additional equipment required for field conditions including poncho, sleeping bag, and entrenching tools.

In a briefing at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) House in London,  the Director General, Russia Ukraine Cabinet Office, Nick Catsaras, said the West has no choice but to out wait President Vladimir Putin in this invasion because the alternative whereby Russia wins wasn’t an option. 

According to him, “this war is one with global consequences. Clearly, the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is a tragedy for Ukraine and a threat to security but the effects of this war are felt round the world in terms of food, energy prices and increased inflation. 

“We are clear that Russia could end this war by withdrawing its troops now. However, there is no sign President Putin is giving up on subjugating Ukraine and he is doing that despite the high cost to Russia in terms of the huge number of casualties that he is suffering and loss of equipment and the long term damage that is being done to Russia’s economy.

“You can feel the resolve on the part of Ukraine to defend and restore its territorial integrity. The allies, especially the UK is committed to support for Ukraine as long as it takes. Our Prime Minister (Rishi Sunak), and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy just spoke again this morning about our support.”

Afterwards at the command centre of Operation Interflex in the South of England, the commander responsible for the training of the Ukrainian infantry soldiers, Colonel James Thurstan, said the programme is designed to equip the Ukrainian recruits with the basics of warfare.

With Operation Interflex as the largest per capita contributor to training support for Ukraine, he said the mission focuses on the delivery of lethal and survivable soldiers equipped with the offensive spirit required to win at the battlefield of Ukraine. 

He said: “The training will give volunteer recruits with little to no military experience, the skills to be effective in frontline combat. The training helps them to be more lethal than their Russian counterparts.

“It allows them to be able to survive long enough in the conflict. It also gives them the defensive spirit to win the war and go ahead to establish the international boundaries.”

Since the war started, the UK government has been the second largest military to donate to Ukraine, with a commitment of £2.3 billion in 2022, and a further £2.3 billion in 2023.

In October 2023, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps announced a major new package of equipment support for Ukraine worth over £100 million including air defence systems, crucial equipment to help Ukrainian soldiers cross minefields, and bridging capabilities to assist with river and trench crossings.

Meanwhile, the UK has a long history of supporting Ukrainian service personnel through Operation ORBITAL, which trained 22,000 Ukrainians between 2015 and 2022. 

The programme builds on this success and demonstrates the UK’s continued leadership in responding to Ukraine’s military requirements as the war evolves.

In addition to Op Interflex the UK has expanded its training operation to include: 

Although the Ukrainian invasion started in 2014 with attempts by Russia to annex some parts of Ukraine, the escalation occured on February 24, 2022, when Russia moved 100,000 troops to invade Ukraine in an escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War.

Already, the war has claimed tens of thousands of civilian casualties and hundreds of thousands of military casualties. 

Also, with about 8 million Ukrainians internally displaced with some fleeing the war-torn country, this has created Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II.

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