Royal Navy Training Propels Ukraine's High-Profile Riverine Raids

Ukrainian Marines practice an amphibious raid with British instructors in the UK (Courtesy Royal Navy)
Ukrainian Marines practice an amphibious raid with British instructors in the UK (Courtesy Royal Navy)

Published Aug 13, 2023 4:55 PM by The Maritime Executive

Ukraine's riverine commando forces have been getting attention in the West for daring raids across the Dnipro River, where they have used small-boat tactics to disrupt Russian defenses far from the front lines. Less known is the role that the Royal Navy has played in training and equipping Ukrainian forces for these high-risk missions. The Royal Marines have trained about 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers in the techniques used by NATO special forces to reach hostile shores, carry out a covert attack and slip away before the enemy can muster a response. 

“The training I have received from the UK Royal Marines has been far more intense than I expected," one Ukrainian marine testified. "I have learned so much and never expected to be doing the things I have done. All the way through, our British instructors have been beside us, showing us how to move and how to work together in a small team."

Ukrainian marines training alongside Royal Marines instructors in the UK (Royal Navy)

The five-week training program includes instruction in survival, first aid, close quarters combat, demolition, drone reconnaissance and unit-level planning. Weapons training covered some of the high-end equipment provided by Western militaries, like guided antitank weapons and surface-to-air missiles. 

About 900 Ukrainian marines have gone through the course, including new recruits and experienced members of the Ukrainian military, and graudates have put the lessons to work on the Dnipro. 

Last week, a team of Ukrainian commandos crossed the river near Kherson and landed at the village of Kozachi Laheri. They managed to break through Russian lines and advance about one kilometer, and intial reports indicate that a small bridgehead has been established to the west of the village. The region is far from the front lines in Zaphphorizia, and the raids tie up Russian defenders who could otherwise by deployed to block Ukraine's main attempts at an advance.