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Britain to lead multinational effort to train Ukrainian navy

Britain to lead multinational effort to train Ukrainian navy
Britain's minister of defense, Ben Wallace, at right, met Ukrainian defense minister Andrii Taran in Kyiv Tuesday and announced a new multinational training initiative to strengthen Ukraine's defense. Photo courtesy of Ukrainian Defense Ministry

Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Britain's Defense Secretary announced Tuesday that the country will lead a multinational Maritime Training Initiative for the Ukrainian Navy in order to boost Ukraine's ability to combat threats in the Black Sea.

During a visit to Kyiv, Ben Wallace said Britain will send Royal Navy ships to the region later in the fall to train alongside the Ukrainian navy.

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"The Maritime Training Initiative is another step forward for the U.K.'s defense relationship with Ukraine," Wallace said. "We have already assisted thousands of Ukrainian personnel in a plethora of skills ranging from basic first aid to operational planning, all of which defends their territorial integrity from Russian-backed separatists."

According to the British Defense Ministry, the Maritime Training Initiative will enable closer collaboration with the NATO Alliance and Armed Forces around the world, and allow Britain to build on Ukraine's new NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partner status.

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The Ministry of Defense will increase its support to the Armed Forces of Ukraine by coordinating an international maritime training package that will include courses from the Royal Navy, as well as naval personnel from Sweden, Canada and Denmark.

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The courses will cover areas such as navigation, operational planning, military diving, sea surveillance, fire-fighting and damage control.

During his visit to Kyiv, Wallace met with Ukrainian defense minister Andriy Taran and Ukrainian commander-in-chief Colonel General Ruslan Khomchak to discuss regional security and areas of mutual interest and cooperation.

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Wallace also laid a wreath at the Hall for the Defenders of Ukraine in tribute to members of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who have died in combat since the beginning of the conflict in East Ukraine in 2014.

"Today we held fruitful and effective negotiations. The main attention was paid to the discussion of relevant issues of mutual interest. Namely, the assessment of the security situation in Eastern Ukraine and the Azov and Black Sea regions, trends and prospects for its development, as well as ways to respond to emerging threats," Taran said.

"We also discussed the state and prospects of implementation of defence reform objectives, issues of Euro-Atlantic integration, in the context of maximizing the use of new instruments of defense and military cooperation, which Ukraine received with the status of NATO's Enhanced Opportunities Partner."

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U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper also expressed his support for the initiative on Twitter on Tuesday.

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