British combat engineers are teaching their Ukrainian counterparts how to find and deal with mines, while teaching them to diffuse munitions and improvised explosive devices.
In one of the latest packages of military aid to Ukraine, the United Kingdom provided Kyiv with the tools and training necessary to deal with one of the biggest challenges on the battlefield.
Combat Engineers on the Job
Perhaps the biggest obstacle that the Ukrainian forces have encountered has been the extensive Russian minefields.
Leading up to the Ukrainian counteroffensive, the Russian military planted hundreds of thousands of anti-tank and anti-personnel mines all along the contact line, especially in southern Ukraine and the Donbas. As a result, the Ukrainian mechanized brigades could only advance very slowly, while under fire from attack helicopters and artillery.
To deal with this issue, the British military has been training more Ukrainian combat engineers on the art of finding and negating mines and other munitions. The training is taking place in Poland and includes mine-disposal operations, trench-clearing operations, and urban combat engineer skills.
“The Royal Engineers are using their world-leading experience to train Ukraine’s bomb disposal experts, who can pass on these lifesaving skills to their own recruits and ensure a safer future for all Ukrainians,” Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said in a press release.
But Ukrainian combat engineers have to work behind the frontlines as well. Starting last year around this time, the Ukrainian forces have liberated large chunks of territory from Russia. To make the towns and villages habitable once again, Ukrainian combat engineers have to first ensure that they are clear of unexploded munitions or improvised explosive devices.
“Putin’s illegal invasion has left Ukraine’s fields and towns covered in deadly landmines and unexploded munitions, which presents an immediate danger to its citizens now and for years to come,” the British Defense Secretary added.
Military Aid to Ukraine
A constant stream of security aid to Ukraine has been key in helping Kyiv’s forces repel the invading Russian military. To be sure, the Ukrainians have displayed admirable strength of will and a shrewd strategic mind. But without the weapons systems and munitions from the West, Russia would most likely be running the show by now.
The U.K. is the third largest contributor of military aid to Ukraine after the United States and Germany. Since the start of the Russian invasion more than 20 months ago, the U.K. has committed close to $8 billion.
“Our support for Ukraine is unwavering and I want to be clear that we will continue to support Ukraine to ensure they win this war and reclaim their sovereignty,” Shapps stated.
In comparison, Germany has committed close to $20 billion, with another $11 billion to follow in the next years. The U.S. remains by far the single most important contributor of security aid to Ukraine, with over $45 billion worth of weapon systems and munitions.
However, for Ukraine to prevail, more and better weapon systems are needed.
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations and a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ). He holds a BA from the Johns Hopkins University, an MA from the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and is pursuing a J.D. at Boston College Law School. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.
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