Saturday, April 20, 2024

PM announces deployment of 120 soldiers to train Ukraine troops

New Zealand has committed to the deployment of a further 120 New Zealand Defence Force personnel to the UK to help train Ukraine soldiers.

The latest deployment is part of an international effort to help Ukraine continue to defend itself against Russia’s illegal war, Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern said today.

“New Zealand has been clear that we will continue to answer the call of Ukraine for practical support as they defend their homeland and people against Russia’s unjustified invasion,” Prime Minister Ardern said. 

It follows a completed deployment of 30 NZDF personnel in May to train Ukrainian military personnel in operating artillery, and is part of a series of actions to date that includes over $40 million in financial support and the sanctioning of 840 individuals and entities.

“Today’s deployment of 120 New Zealand Defence Force personnel will again travel to the United Kingdom to support the training of Ukrainian armed forces infantry recruits,” said Ms Ardern.

“We know that one of the highest priorities for Ukraine right now, is to train its soldiers, and New Zealand is proud to stand in solidarity alongside a number of other countries to answer that call.”

She said the deployment will enable two infantry training teams to equip Ukrainian personnel with the core skills to be effective in frontline combat including weapon handling, combat first aid, operational law and other soldier skills.

Defence Minister, Peeni Henare said the deployment also provided an opportunity for NZDF personnel to gain valuable experience through conducting core soldier skills in a foreign environment, alongside key partners, which promotes retention in our defence workforce.

“The infantry training provided aligns well with the skills and capabilities of our personnel,” he said.

“The training will be conducted exclusively at one of four locations in the UK and our NZDF personnel will not enter Ukraine.”

Chief of Defence, Air Marshal Kevin Short said the Cabinet decision followed an invitation from the UK Armed Forces for the NZDF to contribute to the infantry training programme.

“I am very pleased that this deployment has been approved, particularly for the Army, as it provides an opportunity for some of our people to contribute further in a very meaningful way as we respond to a request from a close partner,” Air Marshal Short said.

“Our contribution through earlier efforts have already helped and this decision continues our aid to Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia’s unjustified and illegal invasion.

“The deployment is a good indication of the high regard our partners have for our professionalism as a military force,” he said.

The contingent will travel via civilian flights to the UK in tranches and will begin their work to equip Ukrainian recruits with the core skills to be effective in frontline combat.

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