The UK-based training program comes after Sweden renounced centuries of neutrality by applying to join NATO
Swedish instructors will train Ukrainian civilians in the UK to prepare them for service in Kiev's military, the Nordic nation's Ministry of Defense said on Sunday. With the British hoping to prepare 10,000 Ukrainians for combat, the announcement suggests that Kiev's conventional forces are depleted.
The Swedish Armed Forces will send up to 120 instructors to the UK between August 12 and December 31, Stockholm said. The instructors will "conduct basic military training for Ukrainian citizens, divided into several training courses," the statement continued.
The training program was announced by Britain last month. While Downing Street said that the courses would "train and drill the Armed Forces of Ukraine using battle-proven British Army experience," those being trained are all fresh recruits.
"These guys are all civvies," Sgt. Dan Hayes, a British instructor, told The Times in mid-July. "These guys were truck drivers or they worked in quarries or they were shopkeepers."
Sweden's statement said that those trained would be given "basic military training to enable them to serve in Ukraine's armed forces."
"The aim is to make it possible for Ukraine to maintain and strengthen its defense capabilities," the statement explained.
The existence of the training program suggests that Ukraine is in urgent need of manpower. While Kiev does not publish casualty figures, Mikhail Podoliak, an aide to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, told the BBC in June that Ukraine was losing between 100 and 200 soldiers per day, not counting those wounded. Around the same time, Zelensky said that 60 to 100 Ukrainian soldiers were being killed in Donbass on a daily basis, with another 500 injured.
Zelensky has since claimed that his armed forces have slowed their losses, with around 30 men killed every day as of late July. Russia does not publish regular updates on Ukraine's losses, but claimed at the beginning of July that Kiev had lost almost 5,500 troops in the two previous weeks, including over 2,000 killed.
Regarding its own casualties, Moscow has not updated the numbers since March, when it reported 1,351 military personnel killed and 3,825 wounded.
The fighting in Donbass - where Ukrainian troops face a numerically superior and better equipped Russian military - is "hell," Zelensky said last week. Despite having Western weapons at their disposal, Ukrainian troops have been "unable to break the Russian army's advantage," the president said, as Ukrainian reporters described the battlefield near Donetsk as a "senseless meat grinder, where huge numbers of our infantry are chewed up in one day."
Britain hopes to train around 10,000 Ukrainians every 120 days to shore up these losses. The involvement of Sweden in the program is noteworthy, as the Nordic nation broke with more than 200 years of neutrality and non-alignment in May when it applied to join the NATO alliance along with Finland.