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New Zealand Completes Ukrainian Armed Forces Training, More in July

New Zealand has completed another phase of its military training program for Ukrainian soldiers to help them fight Russia’s invasion.

The initiative, dubbed “Operation Tieke,” is Wellington’s contribution to the larger Operation Interflex, a UK-led multinational training initiative for Kyiv in response to Moscow’s attacks.

New Zealand has prepared over 3,100 Ukrainian recruits since the effort’s launch.

Primary sessions the country provides focus on infantry simulations, combat casualty care, combat engineering, maritime explosive ordnance disposal, specialist training, and other “train the trainer” support.

The most recent is the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF’s) sixth rotation of Operation Tieke personnel to deliver training 

“Helping another country to defend themselves from an aggressive invader demonstrates the NZDF’s support and commitment to the rules based international order,” Operation Tīeke Land Component Commander Brig. Matt Weston stated.

“As we have continuously done throughout Op Tīeke, we are adapting to meet the needs of Ukrainians in a way that balances NZDF resources, while maximising the direct support we can provide. We will continue to evolve the training we provide as the needs change.”

“This is important work. We can be justifiably proud of the work we’ve done to help Ukraine defend their country.”

Preparing for ‘Realities of War’

The UK announced last year that approximately 17,000 Ukrainian soldiers have received training under Operation Interflex since its inauguration in June 2022.

Alongside New Zealand and British personnel, the program is managed by teams from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Lithuania, Canada, Norway, and the Netherlands.

In July, New Zealand’s Operation Tieke will oversee training for a new batch of Ukrainian troops. Additional lessons for this set will include mine awareness and medical practices.

Ukrainian trainees
Ukrainian trainees practicing urban warfare fighting techniques. Photo: UK Ministry of Defence

“The training delivered by NZDF personnel has prepared Ukrainian soldiers for the realities of war, and taught the necessary skills to support Ukraine’s self-defence. There’s no doubt the training has saved lives,” Tīeke Senior National Officer Major Matt Blake explained.

“The training NZDF delivers has evolved to become more realistic, intense and aligned with the latest lessons from the battlefield. New Zealand personnel have left no stone unturned and enhanced all facets of the training delivery to ensure the soldiers are as best prepared as possible.”

Training Contributions for Ukraine

New Zealand revealed in February 2024 that it will extend support for the UK-led Ukrainian Armed Forces training to June 2025. The mandate ordered the deployment of up to 97 NZDF personnel.

In May 2023, Wellington deployed another 95 soldiers to London and a separate team to Poland to support the training until June 2024.

In 2022, the government sent more than 100 troops with varying specializations to European territories for the same purpose.

New Zealand said in its update earlier this year that about 500 NZDF warfighters have upskilled Ukrainian warfighters under the country’s Operation Tieke framework.

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