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New Zealand boosting military support for Ukraine

A New Zealand soldier presenting to Ukrainian recruits in the UK. Photo: New Zealand defense ministry

New Zealand’s government announced it would up its defense commitments and provide further support and personnel to assist Ukraine in its defense against Russia’s invasion.

The boost will mainly come in the form of training and military personnel support. For example, NZ defense force infantry training for Ukrainian military personnel in the United Kingdom will be extended.

There is also more funding for equipment and supplies for Ukraine’s self-defense; and to support global food security in the face of the conflict.

“The extended support builds on the package of military, diplomatic, legal and humanitarian assistance provided by Aotearoa New Zealand since Russia’s war of aggression began in February,” New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“Putin’s continued pursuit of this war is fundamentally wrong. We call on Russia to reverse course and withdraw from Ukraine. Ukrainians, both in uniform and civilians, die every day as Russia’s senseless attacks continue.”

New Zealand’s support to the United Kingdom armed forces-led operation to train Ukrainian personnel will be extended, with the deployment of one infantry training team numbering up to 66 NZDF personnel from November 30 to July 31 next year.

At present the NZDF has two infantry training teams totaling 120 personnel training Ukrainian personnel in the UK.

They are split into two training teams: Kiwi Team 1 made up of personnel from 1 Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (RNZIR) based in Linton, and Kiwi Team 2 of Burnham-based 2/1 RNZIR personnel.

They are delivering a five-week infantry basic combat course designed to increase survivability and lethality on the battlefield.

The training is broken down into a basic introduction to soldiering, tactical exercises, range practices and live field firing. It covers weapon handling, combat first aid, operational law, field-craft, offensive and defensive operations, and marksmanship.

The NZDF training teams are in their second rotation of training. The first group of more than 320 recruits trained by the New Zealanders have returned to Ukraine to defend their country.

A second group, also of more than 320 recruits, are part way through their training in the UK with the Kiwi teams.

Once they have completed their course, the Ukrainian soldiers either continue with specialized training in other roles with some likely to deploy on the battlefield.

NZDF’s existing intelligence contribution of up to 12 personnel in the UK, as well as New Zealand-based open source intelligence staff, will also be extended from November 30 to June 30 next year. In addition the NZDF will provide two additional support positions to the UK for the same period.

Additional NZDF personnel will provide command and administration support, as well logistics and liaison tasks.

New Zealand will also contribute an additional NZ$1.85 million to the NATO Trust Fund for non-lethal military equipment and supplies for Ukraine’s self-defense during the northern winter.

Another $1.85 million will go to the World Food Programme to help address global food insecurity, which has been exacerbated by the crisis in Ukraine.

“We are pledging further support to the NATO Trust Fund. This will provide non-lethal military support like winter clothing, food rations, mobile generators, ambulances, medical and first aid kits, shelters, and other vital supplies over the coming northern winter,” New Zealand foreign affairs minister Nanaia Mahuta said.

“I am pleased the NZDF infantry can offer the skills and experience for further training. This deployment also provides an opportunity for NZDF personnel to gain valuable experience,” said defense minister Peeni Henare.

“The infantry training demonstrates the core skills and capabilities of our defense personnel. Utilizing them in an offshore location, alongside key partners, helps encourage retention of frontline personnel. However I want to be clear that the NZDF will not be entering Ukraine.”

NZDF deployments in support of Ukraine have included a C-130 Hercules and air detachment, intelligence staff, liaison officers, logistics support to cohere and coordinate distribution of military aid, plus an artillery training team and the two infantry training teams instructing Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel.