Britain to lead training programme for Ukrainian navy

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will lead a multinational programme to help train the Ukrainian navy, the Ministry of Defence said on Tuesday, seeking to bolster security in the region and improve Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against Russia.

Ukraine and Russia have been foes since 2014, when Moscow seized Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and backed a rebellion in the east. Ukraine lost much of its naval capacity during the initial conflict.

“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,” defence minister Ben Wallace said during a visit to Kiev.

The training will be undertaken by naval personnel from Sweden, Canada and Denmark in areas such as navigation, operational planning, military diving, sea surveillance, fire-fighting and damage control.

British Royal Navy ships will also visit the region later this year.

The naval training initiative, and the resumption of an existing army training programme that was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, would be complemented by security assistance support provided by the United States, the MoD said.

“This will further enhance Ukraine’s capabilities and situational awareness in the maritime domain to more effectively defend itself against Russian aggression,” the MoD statement said.

Reporting by William James; Editing by Alison Williams