ERR in Ukraine: How are Ukrainian soldiers trained in Estonia doing?

Anton Aleksejev in Ukraine.
Anton Aleksejev in Ukraine. Source: ERR

"Aktuaalne kaamera" visited the positions of Ukraine's 44th Brigade to see how Ukrainian soldiers who trained in Estonia last April and returned with howitzers Estonia gave to Ukraine are faring in the war.

A year ago, the howitzers were still used by the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF). Now, they are serving their purpose in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Ukraine.

"The weapon had fired some 300 times before it reached us. By now, we have fired it around 2,000 times," a soldier codenamed "Ox" said.

"We have not lost a single howitzer since last April. All are operational and doing their job well. We'll replace the barrel when the time comes and keep using the weapon," "Typhoon" added.

How well the Ukrainians operate their FH-70 howitzers is best gauged by the EDF members who trained them.

"The distances we're working with can be 25-28 kilometers. It was impossible for us to train for this in Estonia. That is the first difference. We also need to consider the weather as it is a major factor with distances like these. We could not fire the guns to such a distance in Estonia. We have had the chance here, and the weapon is very accurate," "Sailor" remarked.

The artillery crews get their target coordinates from air reconnaissance.

"Their task is to carry out aerial surveillance, keep an eye on enemy-occupied territory. And then we can do our job. They are adjusting our fire," he added.

"The task was to hit enemy machinery. We used five shells. As you saw, only minimal fire adjustment was needed," said "Typhoon."

It was hoped that switching to NATO munitions would solve the problem of ammunition shortage.

"Munitions remains a problem. We don't have as much as we would like. But our howitzers are more accurate than theirs. If we need five or six shells to hit our target, they need 10-15. A notable difference," the soldier said.

"I believe that in order to keep the enemy at bay along a single stretch of the front, we need to fire at least 700 shells daily. I'm not talking about a single battery, but a stretch of the front line. If we had such quantities of munitions along every stretch, we could keep the enemy from advancing and even consider going on the offensive ourselves. Unfortunately, we are short on ammunition," "Sailor" said.

Estonia and Estonians left a very good impression on "Sailor" and his brothers in arms.

"Estonians know best what Russia is about. They understand that should we lose, the war will come there next. Believe me when I say that I would not hesitate to fight for Estonia should that happen," "Sailor" promised.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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