Training Ground: Inside the British Camp Where Ukrainian Volunteers Learn to Be Soldiers

Credits: New Lines Magazine

A dense cloud of white smoke hangs in the air as a group of Ukrainian soldiers, armed with rifles, cautiously approach a rundown building. They suspect enemy forces may be hiding inside, ready to launch a surprise attack.

Following their commander’s orders, they enter the building, while snipers take up positions outside to guard against any ambush. Fortunately, there is no sign of the enemy, and the soldiers breathe a sigh of relief.

This scenario is not unfolding in Ukraine but in a simulated village in southern England. These soldiers are part of Operation Interflex, a five-week training course conducted by the Ministry of Defence to transform ordinary Ukrainian civilians into highly skilled warriors, prepared for the realities of warfare.

Military Training Ground (Credits: NPR)

Lt Col Steve Wilson of the Queen’s Royal Hussars, who oversees the programme, explains, “We’re aiming to turn them into lethal and survivable soldiers. We’re tapping into the fighting spirit they already possess so they can return to Ukraine and defend their homeland.”

The training is intense, with a focus on urban warfare, weapons handling, medical skills, and explosives training. The goal is to prepare these recruits for the harsh realities of combat against Russia’s invading forces.

One such recruit, Misha, 38, who worked in a car factory in Western Ukraine before the invasion, had never handled a gun before this training. Despite the lack of experience, he is eager to return home and join the fight. “I’ll be okay: I have my girlfriend,” he says, pointing to the rifle in his hands.

These Ukrainian soldiers keep their identities hidden, as revealing them could endanger their families back home. They are part of a larger group of volunteers sent by the Ukrainian army to undergo this crash course in warfare, hoping to gain the skills necessary to defend their country against the ongoing Russian invasion.

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