By Lucy Craymer
WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand is sending 120 military personnel to Britain to help train Ukrainians in front-line combat, the government said on Monday.
The deployment will enable two infantry training teams to equip Ukrainian personnel with the core skills to be effective in combat, including weapon handling, combat first aid, operational law and other skills.
The training of about 800 Ukrainian soldiers will be conducted exclusively at one of four locations in Britain, and New Zealand defence personnel will not travel to Ukraine, the government said in a statement.
“We have been clear that a blatant attack on a country’s sovereignty and the subsequent loss of innocent lives is wrong and intolerable. Our condemnation will continue to extend beyond words and include critical support,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference to announce the deployment.
She stressed that New Zealand troops have not and would not engage in combat in Ukraine.
Thirty New Zealand defence personnel completed a deployment in May to train Ukrainian military personnel in operating artillery.
The training deployments are part of a series of actions in response to Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of its southern neighbour that have included more than NZ$40 million ($25.70 million)in financial support and the sanctioning of 840 individuals and entities.
Russia calls its intervention in Ukraine a “special operation” to demilitarise it.
(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Robert Birsel)