The UK actively supported Ukraine years before the EU acted

Part II of our series in the run-up to the 80th D-Day commemorations on Thursday

Montage © Facts4EU.Org 2024

Facts4EU.Org provides more evidence of the leading role the UK has taken in defending Europe

It is rarely mentioned in the media but Putin first illegally invaded Ukraine in 2014 – 10 years ago. In 2015, following Putin’s invasion and annexation of Crimea, the United Kingdom started training the Ukrainian army. Many thousands of officers and soldiers were trained by UK military personnel and this process continues to this day.

A Brexit Facts4EU.Org Series

Part I – The UK's defence of the EU
Part II - The UK's support for Ukraine, years before the EU acted (This report)
Part III – The 80th anniversary of D-Day

The United Kingdom’s proud history

Two years ago we reported on the UK’s long history of supporting Ukrainian service personnel through Operation ORBITAL, which trained 22,000 Ukrainians between 2015 and 2022. On 09 July the then Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, announced a new programme to build on this success, which demonstrated the UK’s continued leadership in responding to Ukraine’s military requirements as the war evolved.

The programme is part of the UK’s enduring commitment to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s unprovoked invasion, which up until mid 2022 amounted to more than £2.3 billion in military aid and included more than 5,000 NLAW anti-tank weapons and M270 multiple launch rocket systems.

The former Defence Secretary in 2022

“This ambitious new training programme is the next phase in the UK’s support to the Armed Forces of Ukraine in their fight against Russian aggression. Using the world-class expertise of the British Army we will help Ukraine to rebuild its forces and scale-up its resistance as they defend their country’s sovereignty and their right to choose their own future.”

“The training will give volunteer recruits with little to no military experience the skills to be effective in frontline combat. Based on the UK’s basic soldier training, the course covers weapons handling, battlefield first aid, fieldcraft, patrol tactics and the Law of Armed Conflict.

“The Government has rapidly procured AK variant assault rifles for the training programme, meaning Ukrainian soldiers can train on the weapons they will be using on the front line. This effort was supported by the Welsh Guards, who tested more than 2,400 such rifles in 17 days to ensure they were ready for the Ukrainians to commence their training.”

- The Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, then Secretary of State for Defence, 09 July 2022

The then Defence Secretary Ben Wallace MP 'in theatre', 2022

The UK is not only doing the job for Ukraine, but for the EU itself

British Challenger 2 tanks in Poland 08 July 2022, credit: Poland’s Ministry of National Defence 2022 - click to enlarge

To give some idea of the scale of the UK’s support in defending the EU, Facts4EU.Org obtained pictures of the British deployment of British Challenger 2 tanks to eastern Poland. These came via the ‘Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej’ – Poland’s Ministry of National Defence – on 08 July 2022.

The tanks are from Squadron A of the Queen’s Royal Hussars.

This is yet one more demonstration of the ways in which the United Kingdom has been playing a leading role in the defence of the EU which it technically left on 31 January 2020. Still no thanks from the EU Commission.

How Putin’s illegal war has hit Russia

Just over two weeks ago, President Putin appointed a new Defence Minister - Andrei Belousov. Upon taking up the job, Belousov placed special emphasis on prosecuting the war with “minimal human losses”.

Minister Belousov’s background is as an economist, so here are the numbers :

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

The UK Government's view of Russia's involvement in Ukraine

  • It is 10 years since Putin’s first illegal invasion - of the Crimean peninsula
  • Today it is 828 days since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine
  • Over 465,000 Russian personnel have been killed or wounded in that time
  • Russia’s daily casualty rate in Ukraine, Jan-Apr 2024 – killed and wounded – was 980 per day
  • In May that number was estimated to be over 1,000 per day
  • Defence now consumes 40% of Russia’s government spending, amounting to 6% of its GDP
  • Ukraine has liberated 70,000 square miles of land that Russia seized in 2022 when Putin invaded
  • A quarter of the Black Sea Fleet’s vessels have been destroyed or damaged, denying Russia control of the western Black Sea and pushing back much of the Russian navy from Crimea
  • Ukraine has successfully resumed maritime exports from its Black Sea ports
  • Monthly export volumes through its maritime corridor are at 4.5m tonnes - the highest since the war began
  • Ukraine is on course to export all its harvest this year despite repeated Russian attempts to prevent it

[ Sources : FCDO | MoD. ]

President Putin is now over two years into a war he thought would take three days. He is no closer to his goal of subjugating Ukraine. Instead, Russia has suffered nearly half a million casualties, and lost a great proportion of its land and sea forces. Seen objectively, the numbers point to a terrible loss for a country like Russia – in Russian lives, materiel and credibility.


It is frequently forgotten that Putin’s Russia first illegally invaded Ukraine 10 years ago, in 2014. Europe had ample warning of his aggressive intentions.

Only the United Kingdom stood up to be counted, as we have shown above. All the EU Commission did was to make a few statements, while the UK got on with the job of training the equivalent of half the British Army. Without this training, who can say how the Ukrainians would have fared when faced with Putin’s second illegal invasion in 2022?

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[ Sources: MoD | FCDO | ‘Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej’ – Poland’s Ministry of National Defence ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Sun 02 Jun 2024

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