SAS troops are training Ukrainians in how to use anti-tank missiles

SAS troops are now training Ukrainians in how to use British-supplied anti-tank missiles after Russia warned that Western involvement means World War Three has already started

  • Marks first time British forces have trained Ukrainian counterparts since invasion
  • British trainers have had a presence in Ukraine since Crimea invasion of 2014
  • Two Ukrainian commanders told The Times their battalions have been trained by British forces in the last fortnight. One said it was to use NLAW missile launchers
  • The UK has supplied Ukraine with more than 3,600 NLAWs since February
  • NLAWs offer ground troops a light-weight counter to Russia’s slow moving tanks

British SAS troops have been training Ukrainian soldiers in Kyiv in how to use British-supplied NLAW anti-tank missile launchers, it has been reported.

The training marks the first time British forces have been instructing their Ukrainian counterparts since Russia’s Vladimir Putin launched his invasion on February 24.

Two officers from separate battalions stationed both in and around the country’s capital told The Times that British Special Forces had trained their troops on two occasions over the last fortnight.

British military trainers have had a presence in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014, but were withdrawn in February as the likelihood of Putin ordering an all-out invasion of Ukraine increased.

Reports of the British training came after Russian TV warned that Western involvement in the war – such as supplying weapons to Ukraine and training its military – meant that World War Three had already begun. 

A Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces member holds an NLAW anti-tank weapon, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 9, 2022

The newspaper said it had spoken to two Ukrainian commanders – Captain Yuriy Myronenko and a Kyiv special forces commander who goes by the nickname ‘Skiff’.

Myronenko said new and returning recruits in his battalion, stationed in Obolon – a suburb in the northern outskirts of Kyiv that experienced heavy fighting in the early days of the invasion – were trained by British SAS to use NLAWs two weeks ago.

Since February, the United Kingdom has delivered more than 3,600 Next generation Light Anti-tank Weapons (NLAWs) to Ukraine, with Kyiv requesting more following reports that they had proven highly effective against Russian armour. 

The launchers are relatively easy to use, and give ground troops a modern, light-weight counter to Russia’s vast numbers of slow-moving – and often dated – tanks.

Skiff, meanwhile, told The Times that Ukraine’s 112th battalion – to which his unit was attached at the time – had also been given training by British troops last week.

His senior commander – nicknamed bear – confirmed Skiff’s report to the newspaper. ‘They were good guys, the Brits,’ he was quoted as saying. ‘They have invited us to visit them when the war is over’.

Myronenko said that the training was vital due to the huge numbers of recruits that have signed up to the country’s resistance effort since the war broke out, meaning many were not trained on how to use the vital missile launchers before Britain pulled its troops out of the country. 

He said that without the British trainers, soldiers around the country who did not receive the training had to go on YouTube to learn how to use the NLAWs – which he said take around five minutes to learn how to use.

A Ukrainian serviceman fires an NLAW anti-tank weapon during an exercise in the Joint Forces Operation, in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, on Feb. 15, 202

Members of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces train to use an NLAW anti-tank weapon on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022

‘After that we had good training,’ he told publication. ‘British officers were here two weeks ago in our unit and they trained us really good. And because we have had successes, we have self-confidence now.’ 

Britain’s Ministry of Defence told The Times it would not comment on the reports on account of a long-standing convention that means it does not comment on the activities of the country’s special forces.

Reports of the training came after U.S. President Joe Biden announced an additional $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday.

The package, which brings the total military aid since Russian forces invaded to more than $2.5 billion, includes artillery systems, artillery rounds, armoured personnel carriers and unmanned coastal defence boats. 

The new package includes 11 Mi-17 helicopters that had been earmarked for Afghanistan before the U.S.-backed government collapsed last year.

It also includes 18 155mm howitzers, along with 40,000 artillery rounds, counter-artillery radars, 200 armoured personnel carriers and 300 additional ‘Switchblade’ drones.

This was the first time howitzers have been provided to Ukraine by the United States.

A road worker examines a destroyed Russian tank on a highway to Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, April 11, 2022. The NLAWs are relatively easy to use, and give ground troops a modern, light-weight counter to Russia’s vast numbers of slow-moving – and often dated – tanks

A destroyed tank is shown Kyiv Wednesday 13 April 2022. Ukrainian forces have destroyed thousands of Russian vehicles since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine

Ukraine is currently bracing itself for a re-focused Russian offensive in the east of the country, after Moscow pulled its troops back from Kyiv in recent weeks.

The Kremlin, which hoped for a swift military victory over its smaller neighbour, saw its troops come within five miles of the capital’s centre. However, its forces were pushed back, and it now finds itself in a grinding conflict and suffering heavy losses.

One of Russia’s biggest losses came in the early hours of Thursday morning, when its Black Sea flagship sank, likely as a result of a Ukrainian missile strike.

Russia later confirmed the Moskva missile cruiser has sunk – while being towed to port following what it said was a fire and explosions involving ammunition stowed onboard.

Ukraine however claims the Moskva’s fate was sealed by a missile strike launched by its forces from the coast which ripped open the hulking Soviet-era ship’s hull. 

Russia’s defence ministry has not confirmed that version of events. A U.S. official said earlier today that it believed Ukraine’s explanation was the truth.

Aside from providing Ukraine with a propaganda victory, Moskva’s sinking also has practical implications for Russia. As flagship, the vessel was likely tasked with coordinating the movements of other ships in the Black Sea which may cause further confusion among Russia’s already-strained command structure. 

Its role was also to provide cover for Russia’s other ships using its anti-air missiles while they launched cruise missiles attacks against cities and military sites. Its loss will make them more-vulnerable to Ukrainian strikes, including by fast jets or drones. 

Russian state TV propagandists on Thursday bight claimed that World War Three had already started in a furious chat show exchange after Ukrainian forces managed to sink the Moskva.  

Russian state TV presenter Olga Skabeyeva (pictured) last night claimed that World War Three had already started in a furious chat show exchange after Ukrainian forces managed to sink Vladimir Putin’s Black Sea flagship, the Moskva

The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet – the Soviet-era guided missile destroyer Moskva – has suffered heavy damage and may have sunk after Ukraine claimed to have shot it with two anti-ship cruise missiles 

Rossiya 1 presenter Olga Skabeyeva, who stuck to the Kremlin’s official line that the warship suffered a ‘fire’ despite heading a segment which blamed the vessel’s demise on Ukraine, said the ‘escalation’ could ‘safely be called World War Three’ and warned Russians ‘we are we’re definitely fighting against… NATO itself’. 

Skabeyeva was joined by pundits who branded the sinking of the Moskva an ‘an absolute cause for war, 100 per cent’ and said there’s ‘nothing to think about, there has to be a response’ as they appeared to suggest Putin should use nuclear weapons on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv so Russia could ‘bomb them once and that’s it’. 

A separate Russian state TV show Vremya Pokazhet last night claimed that the West was supplying ‘zillions of weapons’ to Ukraine and that, at the suppliers bidding, Kyiv was carrying ‘yet more provocations, bloody, horrible, completely unthinkable’.

Host Olesya Loseva told viewers that the West believes that ‘Russia is a country which is unworthy of even being on the world map and that all Russians should simply be wiped off the face of the earth’ hours after it was confirmed that the Moskva had sunk. 

She also said Ukrainians were delighted to see Moscow’s troops in their country, waving the Russian tricolour and treating them ‘like real liberators’ in Kharkiv and claimed that Kyiv ‘not the Russians’ were carrying out a ‘genocide’.   

Separate state-run Channel 1 ran comments by military commentator Dmitry Drozdenko who claimed ‘the West has long been preparing for the war’ and that Russia faces ‘a full-scale multi-level war’ against the ‘collective West’.   

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