Thursday, May 30, 2024

NZDF support to Ukraine extended

New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) deployments to the United Kingdom and Europe in support of Ukraine’s self-defence will continue into 2023 it was confirmed today.

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said that with the extensions announced today by the Government, NZDF personnel would continue to play their part in international efforts to support Ukraine’s self-defence against Russia’s invasion.

“The professionalism, dedication and commitment of our personnel has been recognised by our partners, and they’ll continue to work with purpose to have an impact on Ukraine’s ability to defend itself,” he said.

As part of the extension of support announced today, an infantry training team of up to 66 NZDF personnel will conduct training of Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers, in the UK, with the deployment due to be completed by 31 July, 2023.

The deployment of up to 12 NZDF intelligence personnel in the UK, as well as the NZDF’s New Zealand-based open source intelligence staff, will be extended through to 30 June, 2023, and there will be two additional support positions in the UK.

Up to eight additional NZDF personnel will be deployed to command and support the NZDF personnel based in Europe supporting Ukraine’s self-defence; while logistics support will recommence with the deployment of four personnel to a logistics hub in Europe, until 30 June, 2023.

The deployment of NZDF personnel in liaison officer roles will also be extended through to 30 June, 2023.

“The extended support builds on the package of military, diplomatic, legal and humanitarian assistance provided by Aotearoa New Zealand since Russia’s war of aggression began in February,” said Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.

“Putin’s continued pursuit of this war is fundamentally wrong. We call on Russia to reverse course and withdraw from Ukraine. Ukrainians, both in uniform and civilians, die every day as Russia’s senseless attacks continue.

“Support from distant countries is deeply appreciated by Ukraine. Principles matter and Aotearoa New Zealand is committed to uphold the rules of international law and the United Nations Charter,” she said.

There are currently 135 NZDF personnel deployed to the UK and Europe in support of Ukraine’s self-defence. This includes 120 NZ Army personnel delivering training as part of the UK-led Operation Interflex, training Ukrainian recruits.

Once they have completed their course, the Ukrainian soldiers either continue with specialised training in other roles, with some likely to deploy on the battlefield.

Major Tom Kelly, the Senior National Officer of the NZ Army training teams in the UK, said they felt a deep sense of purpose and responsibility for the Armed Forces of Ukraine recruits, and were working tirelessly to deliver the training and prepare the Ukrainians for the fight that lay ahead.

“The New Zealand training teams have integrated seamlessly with the Ukrainian training audiences, the recruits having responded very well to the New Zealand soldiers and officers instructing them. The humility, dedication and professionalism our soldiers and officers display is being noticed and is having an impact on the battlefield,” he said.

The two infantry training teams will return to New Zealand in December. The main body of the third infantry training team will deploy in January, commencing training soon after arrival in the UK.

NZDF deployments in support of Ukraine have included a C-130 Hercules and air detachment, intelligence staff, liaison officers, logistics support to cohere and coordinate distribution of military aid, plus an artillery training team and the two infantry training teams instructing Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel.

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