New Zealand announced on Monday that a small number of its troops would fly to the UK to train Ukrainian artillery crews, confirming rumors that London was preparing to send Kyiv L119 light howitzers.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that about 30 New Zealand Army members would be in the UK by the end of July for training missions. Wellington has already spent about .7 15.7 million (approximately 12 10.12 million) to help Kiev, including donations of military equipment and intelligence support using commercial satellite resources.
A total of 230 Ukrainian soldiers will take part in the training course, with each session expected to take about a week, said Air Marshal Kevin Short, chief of the New Zealand Defense Forces.
Although Wellington authorities did not say where the L119s would come from, Ukrainian media reported that the UK would supply 105-millimeter Toud artillery pieces. The light howitzer can be pulled by helicopter or carried in a sling.
There is no official word on the number of guns, but the number of troops trained by New Zealand trainers will be enough for a crew of about 40. It is also possible that Ukrainians flying to the UK to instruct Ukrainians will be expected to train others at home, just as the United States has a training program for its M777 Howitzers.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Wellington claims that New Zealand will do more to help his government – such as former defense minister Ron Mark, who recently visited Ukraine. Ardern, however, said Howitzer training was more effective than visiting politicians “In the middle of a war,” The New Zealand Herald reported.
Russia invaded the neighboring country in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the first Minsk agreement, signed in 2014, and the final recognition of the Donetsk republics of Moscow, Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokerage protocols were designed to give special status to isolated territories within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine formally declare itself a neutral state that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kyiv has insisted that the Russian invasion was completely unpleasant and has denied claims that they are planning to forcibly retake the two republics.
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