The UK will lead a multinational maritime training initiative that will boost the ability of the Ukrainian Navy to combat threats in the Black Sea, the UK defense secretary announced on August 18.
Visiting Ukrainian partners in Kyiv, Ben Wallace confirmed that the UK will send Royal Navy ships to visit the region later in the fall, where they will train alongside the Ukrainian Navy.
“It’s great to be in Ukraine for my second time since becoming defense secretary. The maritime training initiative (MTI) is another step forward for the UK’s defense relationship with Ukraine.”
“The maritime training initiative will enable even closer collaboration with the NATO alliance and armed forces around the world, and allows us to build on Ukraine’s new NATO enhanced opportunities partner status.”
Courses will be delivered by the Royal Navy and naval personnel from Sweden, Canada and Denmark in areas such as navigation, operational planning, military diving, sea surveillance, fire-fighting and damage control. More nations are expected to join in the near future.
Ukraine lost much of its navy capability during Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and Ukraine has since continued to face a rising number of threats in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, the UK defense ministry said. In response, Ukraine has been rebuilding its navy to protect its economic interests and its right to freedom of navigation.
As well as bringing skills, knowledge and expertise to the Ukrainian Navy, the MTI will empower the Ukrainian Navy to work even more closely alongside international partners in defense of the Black Sea region.
The new initiative will follow the resumption of operation Orbital, the UK’s training mission to Ukraine, which was scaled due to COVID-19. Since the training mission began in 2015, British troops have trained over 18,000 members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF). Last year the defense secretary extended operation Orbital until 2023.
The UK’s operation Orbital and MTI will be complemented by US security assistance support. This will further enhance Ukraine’s capabilities and situational awareness in the maritime domain to more effectively defend itself against Russian aggression.