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Ukrainian units say new troops lack basic skills like shooting, according to WaPo

Ukrainian soldiers say their reinforcements are arriving on the front line without basic skills such as rifle assembly and shooting, The Washington Post reported.

The outlet spoke with commanders and troops newly deployed to the front, who said their units needed to retrain soldiers sent from the rear.

The report, released Sunday, highlights concerns expressed for months by Ukrainian units, who say they are running out of experienced troops as the war drags on.

As Ukraine rotates rear post men to relieve its front-line fighters, some new arrivals do not meet the basic requirements of their commanders, according to the Post. It’s worth noting that these aren’t even the newly enlisted men that kyiv has been aggressively recruiting in recent months.

An officer with the 93rd Mechanized Brigade, identified by his call sign Schmidt, told the Post that some of his new men did not know how to assemble or disassemble their rifles.

“We’re just wasting a lot of time here in basic training,” Schmidt said, according to The Post. He said he required newcomers to train during their first week by firing about 1,500 rounds a day.

The 93rd Mechanized Brigade saw some of the heaviest combat of the war, including the battles of Bakhmut, Kharkiv and Adviivka.


A Ukrainian anti-aircraft gunner from the 93rd Kholodny Yar Separate Mechanized Brigade holds a cat from his position towards Bakhmut in the Donetsk region in February.

A Ukrainian anti-aircraft gunner from the 93rd Kholodny Yar Separate Mechanized Brigade holds a cat from his position towards Bakhmut in the Donetsk region in February.

ANATOLIE STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images



The Post reports that the new men in Schmidt’s unit will likely be deployed near the devastated town of Chasiv Yar in Donetsk. A newly arrived soldier, identified by the call sign Val from the 93rd Mechanized Brigade, told the media outlet that he was assigned to the front line with one day’s notice.

Another soldier from the 42nd mechanized brigade in Kharkiv told the media that “everything is learned on the spot.”

As for new recruits, Ukrainian training centers are barely equipped to provide soldiers with basic training, according to the Post.

An instructor told the outlet that some facilities do not have enough Soviet-caliber bullets and only allow trainees to fire about 20 rounds before training ends. The officer was not named because he did not have authority to speak about his tenure at the facility.

“There are no grenades to be thrown in the training centers, and there are no grenade launchers being fired in the training centers,” he told the Post.

“We have not put in place an adequate training system,” he added.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s press team did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside of normal business hours by Business Insider.

Why the world cares about the formation of Ukraine

The West is very concerned about the training of Ukrainian troops. kyiv recently began receiving a blocked tranche of U.S. military equipment and weapons, but dwindling troops are undermining that aid.

As Ukraine desperately attempts to fill gaps in its military, North Atlantic Treaty Organization member states – such as the Baltic states and France – have hinted at plans to officially deploy military trainers in Ukraine to prepare for new waves of troops.

Russia and pro-Kremlin experts have called such a move an escalation by NATO that would cross a red line. Meanwhile, Moscow’s economy is on war footing, rapidly recruiting new troops and putting its defense manufacturing industry into full gear.

Its ability to resupply the battlefield with troops and equipment has led some analysts to believe it could sustain heavy losses for years.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is struggling to find and train new men to keep pace with Russia, especially with its rear vulnerable to long-range Russian strikes.

Without safe zones to conduct training, kyiv may have no choice but to send personnel to NATO countries – and even more so when it comes to training operators Ukrainians to use the new equipment provided by the West.


Ukrainian soldiers take part in a training exercise organized by the British armed forces as part of the Interflex program, eastern England, February 24, 2024.

The UK is organizing training for Ukrainian troops as part of its Operation Interflex programme.

HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images



“There is a difficult trade-off between removing experienced soldiers from the front to train new personnel or accepting bottlenecks in training new personnel,” the Institute for the Study of War wrote on Sunday, a think tank based in Washington.

The ISW added that the overall quality of Ukraine’s frontline troops will likely decline as experienced fighters leave, but newer soldiers will likely learn quickly alongside veterans.

He also noted that the Post’s report on Ukrainian commanders training their troops on the front line shows a difference in emphasis between Kiev and Moscow forces, citing how Russian commanders were widely reported to be sending their men poorly trained as cannon fodder.

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