Category : News
Author: Lisette Reymer

Ukrainian fighters have started taking turns to leave the battlefield and the country to spend time with the New Zealand Defence Force.

The Kiwis have been helping to teach them how to use some of the weapons the world is sending them, such as light guns and Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.

The Ukrainians can practice using the weapons without the fear of being shot because there are only friendly forces there.

"We've seen some guys come with a bit of stress at the start of the training, but over the interaction they have with the Kiwis and the relationships we’ve built, it helped the guys relax a little bit before they have to go back again," Major Jonathan Dick said.

Locked in a brutal war with Russia, some Ukrainian soldiers have left the frontline temporarily.

Led by a team of 29 New Zealanders, the Ukrainian soldiers are heading to the United Kingdom for specialised training.

Major Dick said Ukrainians and New Zealanders are alike.

"Very similar to Kiwis. Once you crack through the hard shell, they are quite a jovial bunch."

The training has allowed the soldiers to smile more and to sleep easier at night, but they have to be focused because it is only a six-day crash course.

World War One master gunner Rebecca Bullock said they are doing as much preparation as they can in the small time frame.


"Just work, work, work in order to make the most out of this short window."

Thirty-six of the guns used in the training are being gifted to Ukraine by the UK, but as one of the few countries in the world to use this particular model, New Zealand has been brought in to run the training. 

"Very proud, very proud to represent New Zealand," Major Dick said.

The Kiwis have been on the ground for around a month, and by the time they leave, they’ll have trained more than 300 Ukrainian soldiers. 

Major Dick said he understood how difficult it must be for those being trained.

"We all understand where they’ve come from and where they’re going and what the contribution they're going to make is going to be."

A grateful group of fighters heading back to the battlefield, with the weapons and skills to match their will. 

Note from Nighthawk.NZ:

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