UK To Lead Training Programme For Ukrainian Navy

Royal Navy ships will also be sent to the region in the autumn where they will train alongside the Ukrainian navy.

The UK will lead a maritime training package for the Ukrainian navy starting next month, the Defence Secretary has confirmed.

Royal Navy personnel will carry out the training as part of the Maritime Training Initiative which aims to boost Ukraine's ability to combat threats in the Black Sea.

Naval personnel from Sweden, Canada and Denmark will also support the programme. 

It will cover areas such as navigation, operational planning, military diving, sea surveillance, fire-fighting and damage control, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) said.

During a visit to Kyiv on Tuesday, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also announced Royal Navy ships will be sent to the region in the autumn where they will train alongside the Ukrainian navy.

Mr Wallace said the UK has already assisted "thousands of Ukrainian personnel in a plethora of skills" that defend their "territorial integrity from Russian backed separatists".

"Now, the Maritime Training Initiative will enable even closer collaboration with the NATO Alliance… and allows us to build on Ukraine’s new NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partner status," he said

Ukraine lost much of its naval capabilities during Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and faces threats in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, the MOD said.

Mariupol Commercial Sea Port by Sea of Azov
The MOD said the Sea of Azov is one of the areas Ukraine continues to face maritime threats (Picture: PA).

Since the annexation, the country has been rebuilding its navy to protect its economic interests and right to freedom of navigation.

Mr Wallace also announced the resumption of Operation Orbital - the UK’s training mission to Ukraine, which had been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 18,000 Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel have been trained since the mission started in 2015.

It will now be extended until 2023 and will be supported by the US. 

The UK has also deployed a Special Defence Advisor to help the country reform its defence and security sector, the MOD added.

Cover Image: Defence Secretary Ben Wallace during his visit to Ukraine, where he confirmed the UK will lead a multi-national maritime training initiative for the Ukrainian navy (Picture: MOD).