At least 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been trained in Estonia by the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF). According to an EDF spokesperson, the feedback they have received indicates, that the training has been successful.
"One thousand Ukrainian soldiers have been trained on Estonian territory. The training has been organized into four groups. The Defense Forces, in cooperation with the Defense League (Kaitseliit), have mainly been involved in the first two, which are individual training and specialized training," said Col. Mart Vendla, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Estonian Defense Forces on ETV show "Ukraina stuudio" at the weekend.
Col. Viktor Kalnitski, Chief of the EDF's training department, explained to ERR this week that the training for Ukrainians is divided into four categories: individual field training, specialized training, collective training and leadership training. "Estonia contributes to the first two. That is, with basic soldier training and some specialist courses. For example, we have trained medics and taught Ukrainians how to use FH-70 artillery systems," Kalnitski said.
According to Col. Vendla, Ukrainian snipers have also been trained in Estonia. "The important thing is to create capabilities, not just to train people," Vendla stressed.
Col. Kalnitski said, that the Ukrainian artillerymen, who have been trained in Estonia have already reached the front lines. According to the information and feedback available to Estonia, they are operating there "successfully and professionally."
Kalnitski did not specify where the Ukrainians were in Estonian the training of Ukrainians is taking place, simply saying that the training was being organized in different locations and that different EDF units were contributing to it.
According to Kalnitski, the training of Ukrainians has not had any adverse impact on the training of the EDF's own members. "The training of Ukrainians has been organized after taking into account the training plans of the EDF units and the needs to maintain them."
The Colonel added, that the EDF are able to train Ukrainian soldiers using a combination of Ukrainian, English and Russian depending on their individual language skills. "The language of training is rather a technical issue, and so the training of the Ukrainians is focused on quality," Kalnitski said.
"Each course generates good interpersonal and inter-unit communication, and the Ukrainian servicemen and women stay in touch with each other even after the course is over," he added.
He also indicated that working with the Ukrainians will also be of benefit to Estonia. "The information and feedback received will be collected and analyzed and the results integrated into future training for EDF units."
Estonia was training Ukrainians even before the war
Col. Kalnitski additionally pointed out, that Estonia had been training members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, even before Russia's full-scale military invasion began last February. "For example, the Estonian National Defense Academy (in Tartu – ed.) has been conducting English language courses for Ukrainians, (we have) trained medics, and Ukrainian officers have also studied at the Baltic Defense College," he noted.
"After the start of the Russian aggression, the training needs of Ukrainians increased and Estonia was one of the first countries to offer its assistance. We will continue to provide training according to the needs of the Ukrainians and our own capabilities," Kalnitski added.
The training of members of the Ukrainian military is financed using both Estonian and EU funds.
"The training is part of the European Union Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine (EUMAM) and the financing of the common costs of the mission has come from the participating Member States. This means it will be partly reimbursed by the European Globalization Adjustment Fund (EGF) in accordance with the rules and the agreements in force" Kalnitski said.
Tens of thousands of Ukrainians trained by the Western countries
Mark Milley, chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the weekend that 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers were currently training in Germany and 9,000 had already returned to Ukraine. At the end of March, Pat Ryder press secretary at the U.S. Department of Defense, said that the U.S. had trained over 7,000 Ukrainian soldiers since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion.
Last week, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said, that the European Union had trained more than 16,000 Ukrainian troops so far.
At that same meeting at the Ramstein Air Base, Finland announced that it would ensure the training of 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers in Poland via its 15th military aid package.
Editor: Michael Cole