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Estonia trains 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers in two years

Estonian and Ukrainian troops in Estonia in March.
Estonian and Ukrainian troops in Estonia in March. Source: EDF Headquarters / mil.ee

Estonia has provided over 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers with training following the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine February of last year for around one-sixth of how many EDF conscripts have been trained in that time.

"We have trained over 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers since the start of the war. This mostly covers the basic skills course but also artillery and sniper training and cyber training," Ministry of Defense spokesperson Roland Murof said.

Cpt. Taavi Laasik, press officer for the EDF Headquarters, explained that the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) trains some 3,800 conscripts every year. The number of conscripts to be trained in 2024 has been set at 3,900.

Different units and their instructors contribute to the effort to train the Ukrainians, Laasik said, adding that this is taken into account when planning the training of EDF units. "This requires additional activities and efforts, while helping the Ukrainians has not directly impacted the EDF's training capacity," the press officer emphasized.

He said that the EDF also benefits from training Ukrainian soldiers.

"Exchanging know-how and experience is an important part of every course, and this is a two-way street. The EDF is keeping a close eye on events in Ukraine and collects feedback and experience from Ukrainian units who are in Estonia for training purposes. The results are analyzed and used when developing our own training and activities," Laasik said.

Murof said that the costs of training Ukrainian soldiers are covered mutually and as part of the EU Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine (EUMAM).

"We have applied for partial funding from the EU, while no payment has yet been made," Murof admitted.

Representatives of the Ministry of Defense and the EDF admitted they cannot talk about the training of Ukrainian troops or how much it costs in more detail.

The U.K. Ministry of Defense said in mid-November that British forces have trained over 52,000 Ukrainian troops 30,000 of them as part of the London-run Interflex program. The program has also been used by Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Australia and Romania. Nevertheless, several countries have trained Ukrainian soldiers through other programs and mutual agreements. For example, Poland and USA have not joined Interflex.

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Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski

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