Canada is ready to deploy a contingent of soldiers for the British military’s ambitious program to turn Ukrainian civilians into combat troops, TBEN News has learned.
Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed to the training plan in mid-June during a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy in Kiev.
Up to 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers are expected to fly to the UK for basic and specialist military personnel in five-week courses. The first tranche of Ukrainian recruits arrived and instruction began in early July.
Three sources familiar with the file but not authorized to speak publicly told TBEN News Canada plans to contribute to the British-led effort. Defense Minister Anita Anand is expected to formally announce it today.
The plan amounts to the restart of Operation Unifer, the lengthy training mission in which – until its suspension last winter – more than 35,000 Ukrainian soldiers received advanced combat instruction from Canadian soldiers.
That mission, conducted on Ukrainian soil, was halted and the troops withdrew from the Eastern European country in mid-February, on the eve of the large-scale Russian invasion.
It involved about 200 soldiers and included a contingent. Two of the three sources said the latest initiative with the British will involve “about the same number”.
A third source was more specific, saying the new program includes three training teams of about 60 members each, plus additional command personnel.
The Ukrainian government has repeatedly pressured Canada to restart training in a third country, diplomatic sources said, who spoke separately to TBEN News and were given anonymity due to the file’s sensitivity.
The Liberal government made the training mission, which began under the former Conservative government, a point of pride and was often cited as a testament to Canada’s commitment to Ukraine’s security.
Trudeau left the door open to join UK efforts
When asked about Johnson’s training plan at the end of the NATO summit in June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left the door open for participation.
“Canada will continue to look for opportunities to continue to support Ukraine in various ways,” he said. “We actively trained on the howitzers we did in Latvia [and] we’re also looking for other ways to be helpful.”
The prime minister referred to the training that took place last spring after Canada donated four of the army’s 155-millimeter M-777 howitzers to Ukraine.
Before the eruption of a large-scale war in Ukraine, Britain helped separately train Ukrainian troops under the banner of Operation Orbital between 2015 and 2022, with about 22,000 troops going through their program.
It also withdrew when Moscow launched its so-called special military operation to overthrow the government in Kiev.
When the UK inaugurated its new training program in early July, it invited allies to participate. In addition to Canada stepping forward, another unidentified Commonwealth country is expected to join the effort.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace visited one of the training grounds after the first recruits arrived and praised the initiative.
“Using the expertise of the world-class British military, we will help Ukraine rebuild its armed forces and scale its resistance as they defend their country’s sovereignty and their right to choose their own future,” Wallace said. the British media.