The Spanish Ministry of Defense held an open day in Toledo this Thursday to publicize, on the ground, the ‘EU Military Assistance Mission in Support of Ukraine’. The Army Infantry Academy is the impressive setting where 64 Ukrainian recruits, with no previous military experience, prepare to join combat units in their country.
It is the Ukrainian ‘military’ in Toledo… Between those walls of the academy the new Ukrainian soldiers live and share military experience. It is an instruction very focused on shooting exercises, recovery of the wounded, first aid, urban combat, demining, hand-to-hand combat, physical training… That is what could be observed this Friday.
All this in a period of five weeks, from November 14 to December 17. “There is no other way out than to win the war”, indicated the Ukrainian commander at the head of the group of Ukrainian recruits. The program contemplates a work schedule of 6 and a half days a week with 10-12 hour shifts.
Without military insignia and with their faces almost covered, the recruits strove to comply with the orders issued by the commanders. No name was provided. In addition, the photographs that are revealed have the obligation to come out with pixelated faces. “The identity of these new Ukrainian soldiers must be protected,” a military source clarifies to ABC. They will be ready to fight at Christmas.
«34 years old on average and with higher and basic education, coming from various areas of Ukraine». That is the profile of the Ukrainian recruit from Toledo. “Everyone has left their children, their relatives, their parents in Ukraine. No matter how old they are, they come here to learn so they can defend their country as soon as possible. They are going all out,” said the Ukrainian commander, who was accompanied by a translator.
This from Toledo is the third instruction of the Army to Ukrainian soldiers in Spanish territory since the beginning of the European mission in Spain.
Previously, 21 soldiers trained in handling the 105/14 howitzer at the ‘Álvarez de Sotomayor’ maneuver field (La Legión headquarters in Almería). Spain has promised to send a battery of said howitzers, that is, about six units.
In addition, another group of 19 Ukrainian soldiers received training in November in the use of the Aspide anti-aircraft defense missile system that Spain donated to the Ukrainian Army. This was a training divided into two parts: for system operators and another for maintenance personnel (armourers, mechanics and electronics).
Therefore, Spain with this “Toledo Training Command” has become one of the training centers of a mission that is supervised by the commander of the Operations Command, Lieutenant General Francisco Braco, who explains that in this way “it is intended to coordinate actions carried out by European nations’. The door is not closed for other European nations to send instructors to Toledo to also advise the Ukrainian forces.
In the act on Friday, Lieutenant General Braco insisted that the inflammatory letters received at military institutions such as the Torrejón air base or the Ministry of Defense itself, in addition to La Moncloa or the Ukrainian Embassy, ”will not modify our commitment to Ukraine : we will continue doing what we are doing ».
The Spanish military command expressed a “personal comment” on this European mission: “We are doing the right thing.”
As reported by the Defense Minister, Margarita Robles, at the official presentation of the mission at the Ministry three weeks ago, Spain’s goal is to train nearly 400 Ukrainian soldiers every two months, with a two-year time frame. The General Headquarters of the Military Capacity for Planning and Execution of the European Union coordinates this training, which is also carried out in other centers in Germany or Poland. This type of training mission is by no means alien to the Spanish Army, which over the last decade has specialized in this task in countries such as Mali, Somalia, the Central African Republic or Iraq in various military facets, although always with an asymmetrical enemy. This is the first time that an army has been trained to face regular military forces from a country like Russia.
Visit of Robles to Odessa
The communicative action of the ministry in Toledo this Friday coincides practically in time with the first visit of Minister Robles to Ukraine. The Defense Minister visited Odesa on Friday where she held a meeting with her Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksii Reznikov. “We will continue to support, as all the EU and NATO countries do, because we believe that the cause of Ukraine is the just cause, it is the cause of peace and freedom,” the minister assured at a press conference.
Ministry sources reported on the shipment of more Spanish military material in recent days to the logistics center of support for Ukraine located in Poland: «Spain has intensified its support by donating the largest package of defense material to date. Specifically this last week the Ministry of Defense has delivered different heavy weapons, long-range and anti-tank ammunition. An essential defensive material that has been complemented with the delivery of three electric generators and various urgent medical supplies, in addition to 30 pallets and 7 containers with uniforms and equipment against the cold.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism