Ukrainian commanders told The Times that soldiers from Britain’s Special Air Service (SAS) are training Ukrainian troops in Kyiv on how to use anti-tank weapons provided by London.
According to the accounts of the commanders, the British troops arrived in Kyiv about two weeks ago to begin the training on Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapons, known as NLAWs. The UK started sending NLAWs to Ukraine shortly after Russia invaded on February 24.
The revelation of the SAS training mission is the first report of a NATO member having a military presence in Ukraine since Russia invaded, and it could risk provoking Moscow. In a diplomatic letter to the US last week, Russia warned NATO to stop arming Ukraine, and Russian officials have said US and NATO vehicles transporting weapons inside the country would be considered “legitimate military targets.”
The British Ministry of Defense wouldn’t confirm the training mission, citing its position on not commenting on special operations. Since 2014, the US and its NATO allies had sent troops to Ukraine for training, but they were withdrawn in February before the invasion.
Captain Yuriy Myronenko, one of the Ukrainian commanders who spoke with The Times, said the British training was necessary since new recruits and returning veterans had no experience with the NLAWs. “British officers were here two weeks ago in our unit and they trained us really good,” Myronenko said.
Last week, the US announced an additional $800 million in military aid for Ukraine. Included in the package for the first time are 155mm Howitzers and advanced radar systems that the Pentagon plans to train Ukrainian troops on how to use. But rather than send US troops into Ukraine, the training is expected to happen in a NATO country in Eastern Europe.