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NZDF’s Ukraine war contributions two years on

In the two years since Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the NZDF has regularly deployed specialist teams to the United Kingdom and Europe as part of the international community’s support of Ukraine’s self-defence.

24 February, 2024

As Ukraine’s needs have evolved, so too has the NZDF’s contribution; from deploying an air detachment to deliver military aid in Europe earlier in the conflict, through to providing basic infantry training to Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) recruits in the UK.

This support has included intelligence, logistics and personnel assisting with efforts to coordinate donated military aid.

On Thursday, the New Zealand Government announced an extension to that support to June 2025, and provided additional funding for further military assistance.

This evolved mandate will see up to 97 NZDF personnel conduct specialised training in Europe in from July this year in combat casualty care, combat engineering, leadership, and maritime explosive ordnance disposal training.

NZDF personnel have trained more than 2,700 AFU infantry recruits since contributions to the UK-based programme began in June 2022. An artillery training team was the first on the ground, followed by infantry training groups.

The NZDF’s sixth rotation of personnel to deliver infantry training is currently in the UK. 

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NZDF personnel and recruits from the Armed Forces of Ukraine training as part of Operation Tīeke in the United Kingdom

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said more than 500 NZDF personnel had been deployed under the NZDF’s Operation Tīeke, while many others had also supported those deployments from New Zealand.

“The NZDF trains to be ready to deploy when the Government asks us to,’’ he said.

Operation Tīeke centres on supporting Ukraine in their time of need. The Government’s announcement of an extension to our mandate sees this support continue and with further specialist teams putting their skills to the fore to help Ukraine with their fight.

New Zealand is among 10 nations contributing to infantry training of AFU recruits in the UK.

Personnel work alongside Ukrainian interpreters, sharing their knowledge to deliver a basic infantry course which covers the skills needed to survive on the battlefield.

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NZDF personnel and recruits from the Armed Forces of Ukraine training as part of Operation Tīeke in the United Kingdom

Land Component Commander Brigadier Matt Weston said this training ensured AFU personnel were combat ready.

“The volunteer Ukrainian recruits arrive with little to no military experience, and after five weeks of training they leave as soldiers.”

Brigadier Weston said NZDF personnel were pleased to contribute their skills.

“As our personnel help prepare Ukrainians for the realities they will face in war, they are also increasing their connections with partner nations and growing their professional skills to best support those they are working with and alongside.

“The NZDF involvement in the international effort to help Ukraine defend itself reinforces us as a trusted and globally integrated force ready to operate across the spectrum of operations, from humanitarian assistance to armed conflict.’’