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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Ukrainian soldiers arrive for training

Around 100 Ukrainian soldiers arrived in Norway this week to start a month of special training by Norwegian defense forces. They’re the first of several groups from the Ukrainian military who’ll be trained in Norway on a rotation basis, and receive “some good local hospitality” after more than a year of war in their homeland.

The first group of Ukrainian soldiers landed at the Værnes airport outside Trondheim on Monday and will spend the next four weeks in Norway for military training, along with some rest and recreation. PHOTO: Forsvaret/Heimevernet/Kristian Kapelrud

“We won’t just train up these soldiers,” said Colonel Jens Christian Junge, chief of the Trøndelag Home Guard District HV-12. “We expect most of them (coming straight from the battlefront against Russia’s invading forces) are exhausted and hungry. We’ll send them back well-fed and even more motivated and competent to defend their country.”

Norway’s Home Guard (Heimevernet) has recruited instructors from both the local district around Trondheim and the Norwegian military. The Ukrainian soldiers need more training with the types of military equipment being sent to Ukraine by Norway and other NATO allies over the past several months.

In addition to preparing trenches and battle stations in local training fields, cooks at the military base where the soldiers will stay have studied special Ukrainian dishes they want to serve the soldeirs. Good food and conversation with their Norwegian counterparts are also meant to help support the visiting soldiers, many of whom had little if any military training before Russia invaded and they had to defend Urkaine.

“They worked as teachers and carpenters and have families,” said Captain Rune Haarstad of the Home Guard. They had to suddenly don uniforms out of sheer necessity after Russia launched its widely condemned invasion on February 24, 2022.

‘Natural’ for Norway to help the Ukrainians
Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram, who’s from Trøndelag himself, said it was “natural” for Norway to provide local training and support in addition to the training programs Norwegian forces have taken part in with NATO allies, for example in the UK. The Norwegians will also offer training and classes in military medical aid and field hospital operations, sharp-shooting and leading troops.

“As a small country it’s important for us that conflicts be resolved, and we’ve tried to help build up security in Europe since 1945,” Gram said, referring to when World War II ended and Norway itself emerged from occupation by Nazi German forces. He noted that Europe had sinced enjoyed “the longest period of peace and development in our part of the world, until Russia put a brutal halt to that with its invasion of Ukraine.”

Ukrainians selected for the first training round were chosen on the basis of motivation and performance on the battlefield, and come straight from the front line via Poland. Gram noted that it’s important that the Ukrainian soldiers learn more about the western defense material and arms they’re now using more and more.

“It can also improve the advantage Ukraine has over Russia when it comes to sending highly motivated and well-prepared soldiers into battle,” Gram said.

Six more groups will arrive through the rest of this year. “I feel very honoured and glad that we can support Ukraine in this manner,” Colonel Junge told news bureau NTB while greeting the arriving soldiers on Monday. “Their fight isn’t only important for Ukraine, but for all of Europe.”

NewsinEnglish.no/Nina Berglund

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