The training of Ukrainian soldiers in the West is one of the central pillars of NATO’s strategy to support the country attacked by Russia. But how wise is it to withdraw fighters from the front and train them thousands of kilometers away in Spain, Great Britain or Germany? In a report in the French newspaper Le Monde, several Ukrainians expressed their dissatisfaction with the courses in the West.
“The work here is only done by the infantry in small groups – we cannot use the NATO strategy in that way. NATO will understand at some point,” explained Ihor, deputy commander of a mortar unit on the Bakhmut front in the Donbass. ‘There is a shortage of soldiers. “We cannot afford to do without experienced soldiers by sending them to be trained in new technologies and combat tactics,” he criticizes NATO.
Battalion commander Vadim (28) warns against underestimating the enemy, as the West often does: “Russia does not have a weak army, they have adapted very quickly, they have a human reservoir that we do not have and material in abundance.” He proposes that the NATO people be sent to the front for a month. “You will see that things change every day.”
In addition, there is still the language barrier during training. “The translation was and is a problem. At one point the instructors told us to think about our own safety before thinking about the injured. The Ukrainian translators understood: ‘If you are injured, kill them for your safety,’” Yeyhen, 24, who is also fighting on the Bakhmut front, recalled about his training in Britain in July 2022.
“The training activities,” he continues, “were limited to infantry movements without enemy fire, without grenades, without minefields and without snipers, although this is our daily life on the ground.” Even the depth of the trenches differed from those at the front. “We had to differentiate between the different Russian war machines without being told how to respond when they came at us.” Yeyhen therefore looks for information on YouTube, both about the use of new weapons and tactics.
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Sergeant Vasil (33) is deployed on the Donetsk front. He spent 35 days in Britain in May, coordinating the training of 200 soldiers with English and Danish officials. “I told them that the NATO manuals do not apply to Ukraine, for example to attacking the trenches. They told me that everything was written in advance,” he reports.
There were several occasions when the trainers used YouTube to find solutions, especially for planning operations or resolving disagreements. When Vasil called for exercises in combination with the use of drones, he was told that these were not planned – even though drones are part of the daily war. “We have only used drones once to observe our infantry maneuvers from the air,” Vasil notes. He thinks: “Countries that don’t fight teach us how to fight. The opposite should be the case.”
I am Amelia James, a passionate journalist with a deep-rooted interest in current affairs. I have more than five years of experience in the media industry, working both as an author and editor for 24 Instant News. My main focus lies in international news, particularly regional conflicts and political issues around the world.