New Zealand to train Ukrainian troops — Analysis

New Zealand’s soldiers have announced that they will fly to the UK Monday to train Ukrainian artillery troops. It confirms the legend that London plans to send Kiev L119 light-howitzers. 

On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda ardern stated that 30 New Zealand Army personnel would remain in Britain for the training mission. Wellington already has spent around 15.7million NZ dollars ($approximately 10.12 million US) in aiding Kiev.

According to Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force, Air Marshal Kevin Short (chief of the New Zealand Defence Force), the course will be attended by 230 Ukrainian troops. The sessions are expected to last around a week.

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Although Wellington authorities did not provide any information about where the L119s would be arriving, Ukrainian media claimed that they will be supplied by the UK with the 105 millimeter-towed artillery pieces. Helicopters can transport the lightweight howitzer in slings or tow it. 

Although there is no information on how many guns will be used, the New Zealand instructors have trained enough soldiers to support almost 40 teams. The possibility exists that the Ukrainians who fly to Britain for training will also be expected to teach others in the UK, as the US did with its training program for M777 howitzers.

Ukraine’s ambassador in Wellington has been demanding that New Zealand do more to assist his government – as has former defense minister Ron Mark, who recently visited Ukraine. Ardern said however that having politicians visit was better than howitzer training. “in the middle of a war,”The New Zealand Herald reported.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. French and German protocols were created to grant the regions that had broken away special status in the Ukrainian government.

In recent years, the Kremlin demands that Ukraine declares itself neutral in order to be able to join NATO. Kiev claims that the Russian invasion was unprovoked. It also denies any plans to take the republics with force.

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