NATO-Trained, Armed Soldiers Will Lead Ukraine’s Counteroffensive

by | Jun 4, 2023

NATO-Trained, Armed Soldiers Will Lead Ukraine’s Counteroffensive

by | Jun 4, 2023

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Valerii Markus, Chief Master Sergeant of Ukraine's 47th Separate Assault Brigade.

Ukrainian soldiers trained by NATO and armed with Western weapons will serve as the “tip of the spear” during the upcoming counteroffensive against Russian forces, according to the Washington Post. Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said this support represents the “next level” of security assistance. 

Kiev’s 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade has spent months training in Germany to use Western-made weapons and tactics on the battlefield. Armed almost entirely with Western weapons, the soldiers spent a significant amount of time in the classroom training and learning simulations. 

“You understand the overall picture, how it works,” Maj. Ivan Shalamaha explained. “You understand where and what your shortcomings were. And we pay attention to what we failed to do during this simulation.” 

Ukrainian defense chief Reznikov described the support from NATO as the “next level” of military aid. Whole Ukrainian units have been sent to Germany and other countries to learn “how to operate simultaneously together, like interoperability among the different units,” he said.

While some soldiers received advanced training and weapons outside of Ukraine, Kiev deployed poorly prepared and armed troops during the battle for Bakhmut. The Wall Street Journal spoke with a group of Ukrainian soldiers last month who described the troops in the city as “mostly poor men from villages in the northeastern Kharkiv region, many of them unemployed, doing odd jobs as handymen or shift work at factories in the regional capital.”

According to a soldier who received training in Germany, the Western instructors were only concerned about attacking. While training in Germany earlier this year, a 29-year-old company commander told the Washington Post that “The main tasks that were played there were offensive – only going on the offensive.”

The Post noted that Western tactics may be much less effective for Ukrainian forces given that they lack the modern fighter jets needed to make the strategy work. While Washington and its allies are developing a program to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16s and transfer the aircraft to Kiev, the weapons are unlikely to be supplied in time to make a difference on the battlefield. On Thursday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley said that F-16s, as well as M1 Abrams battle tanks, will not be available for Ukraine’s counteroffensive. 

The US and its allies have been helping to prepare the offensive for several months. However, documents released in the Discord Leaks and statements from Ukrainian officials suggest both Washington and Kiev are pessimistic about the success of the operations. 

Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of Antiwar.com and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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