Confronting video has revealed the gory level of realism that Australian soldiers are exposing Ukrainian troops to as they train for the horrors of the frontline against Russian invaders.
In one particularly graphic exercise, Ukrainian soldiers applied a tourniquet to a leg that appeared to be blown off as the ‘injured’ man yelled in agony clutching his wound.
A contingent of 70 Australian soldiers has been stationed in Britain since January, rigorously preparing 20,000 Ukrainian recruits to be battle ready on the killing fields on eastern Ukraine, where the war with Russia has become a bloody stalemate.
In February, Australian soldiers from the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, deployed on Operation Kudu trained Ukrainians in tactical survival skills by spending days out in the open of an unidentified southern England woodlands.
During the freezing days and nights, where temperatures dropped to 0C, Ukrainians practiced the deadly skirmishes that happen daily in their own wooded areas as soldiers confront each other at close quarters.
Australian trainers have been unsparing in exposing Ukrainian recruits to the brutal reality of war
In a particularly graphic drill, the soldiers spotted a comrade with his leg blown off and secured a position around him as they attempted to stem the flow of blood from the realistic-looking severed limb.
The Ukrainians also practiced manoeuvring in the dark, lying in wait to ambush an enemy patrol and dragging away a wounded or dead comrade from a combat area.
‘The training they (the Ukrainians) have been conducting over the past three days is going over section battle drills,’ an unnamed Australian section commander said.
‘When they are on patrol and are contacted by the enemy it’s the actions that they take.
‘It is suppressing the enemy, regaining the initiative and fixing the enemy in place.
‘The training we are providing is to increase the survivability of the trainees when they go back to Ukraine.’
The Ukrainians have been training in graphically realistic fashion in the woodlands of England for what they may face when they go back to fight the Russians
An unnamed Ukrainian recruit, who worked as a television producer before joining the defence forces to fight off the Russian invasion said the training was proving invaluable.
‘I have learned a lot,’ he said through an embedded interpreter.
‘How to move in a group. How to help. This must be practised hundreds of times so that when the battle begins, I can use this knowledge.
‘If many soldiers are trained according to NATO standards, it will help us all in combat.’
Although exhausted, the recruits were responding well, according to the Diggers.
A Ukrainian recruit waits in mock ambush for an enemy vehicle while training in southern England
‘The recruits receive the information very well, and they have expressed how thankful they are for the training,’ an Australian junior non-commissioned officers said.
‘I 100 per cent believe the training we are providing will increase their survivability – as we have taught them how to work as a team.’
In March Ukrainian recruits were put through other realistic battlefield conditions as they trained in trench warfare, which mirrors what is happening in eastern Ukraine where fighting has begun to resemble the largely static carnage of WWI.
The Ukrainians were trained in developing a trench system while fatigued, conducting reconnaissance of enemy positions and offensive patrolling.
A Ukrainian practises his marksmanship while training under Australian troop in southern England
For the purposes of the exercise the Aussie soldiers played the enemy.
‘We have been probing them sporadically through the night to further their fatigue levels and to simulate the kinds of situations they may see in the coming weeks,’ an Australian platoon commander said.
‘The training is realistic and demanding – it mimics the high-stress and high-stakes environment which the trainees will need to be able to operate effectively in.
‘Some of the trainees have already got experience in trench warfare from the [Russo-Ukraine] war – so the learning has at times been mutual.
‘There are a lot of soldiers who have come from the frontline, who are about to go straight back into it, so this training is the most realistic for them.’
The aim of the training is to be as realistic as possible for what the Ukrainians might face on the battlefield
Most recently the Ukrainians have been conducting live ammunition training in marksmanship and moving while firing.
The bulk of the training being provided to the Ukrainians in the UK is being provided by British soldiers but there are also contingents of military trainers from New Zealand, Canada, Sweden and Finland.
No Australian personnel will enter Ukraine as a part of the operation.
A Ukrainian recruit has expressed his gratitude towards the training being imparted by Australian troops