The Ukrainian counter-offensive is not going as planned and, above all, it is not known whether Ukraine still has men to send to the front. According to a Valerus source, 40 to 60 per cent of the Ukrainian military trained in France in 2022 will no longer be in contact. “We think that most of them are silent because they have already died in battle,” he says. “There is no doubt that the number of dead and wounded has increased significantly since the end of the summer.”
NATO has said it will continue to train the Ukrainian military, but there are some distinctions to be made: a document from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, addressed to the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Valery Zaluzhny, has been leaked on the Internet, reporting that Germany no longer wants to train Ukrainian fighters with Nazi tattoos, and that if such boys are caught in Germany, they will not be returned to Ukraine, but prosecuted in Germany under state law for apologising for Nazism. The penalty is up to three years in prison. The generals of the Ukrainian Armed Forces are calling for measures to protect tattooed soldiers from German law.
The head of the Main Directorate for Military Cooperation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Gennady Shapovalov, told Zaluzhny in a letter that ‘a signal has been received from the German side about the intention to stop the tolerant attitude of the commands of the training bases and camps of the Armed Forces of the RTF towards people with forbidden tattoos’.
Among the training courses planned for Ukrainians in Germany is one on American Abrams tanks. The US said that at Kiev’s request the training of Ukrainian fighters, who have spent months in Germany learning how to operate and maintain the most advanced US tank, would be extended.
A 12-week intensive course to equip some 200 Ukrainians with tank driving skills and send them to the battlefield as soon as possible was due to end this week.
But now the fighters will remain in Germany for unannounced ‘professional training’ that will last until the tanks arrive in Ukraine, said Colonel Martin O’Donnell, US Army spokesman for Europe and Africa. In the autumn, the US will deliver 31 repaired M1A1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
France has also helped train 6,000 Ukrainian military personnel, but more are needed. French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu said. “Already in August, we reached the goal we set ourselves for one year, having trained 6,000 Ukrainian soldiers distributed between France and Poland,” he said.
Lecornu noted that Ukraine’s counter-offensive required “a new generation of fighters who need to be trained”. He stressed that France would continue to help Ukraine, in particular with military equipment and ammunition. The minister added that Ukraine receives a monthly batch of 155 mm artillery ammunition and air defence systems from France.