Deeply secretive, Ukrainian marines have been training alongside Norwegian coastal hunters in northern Norwegian fjords this summer. The Ukrainian operation has drawn particular attention.
The exercise will strengthen Ukraine’s ability to regain territory occupied by Russia, which controls much of Ukraine’s coastline toward the Black Sea.
Much of the front line between the Russian invaders and Ukrainian forces runs along major rivers in the south and east of Ukraine.
Ukraine wants to learn more about how to use the rivers to their advantage in the war against the Russian aggressors.
– The Ukrainians need to practice fast and stealthy operations with small rubber boats on the front, Coast Guard Commander Capt. Sten Richard Larson told VG.
– The purpose of the landing may be to reconnoitre. But there could also be armed actions and direct confrontation with the enemy, he adds.
For five weeks, a group of Ukrainian officers from Ukraine’s navy trained together with Norwegian coastal hunters in northern Norway.
The Navy has now shared photos and video with VG from training with Ukrainian sailors in Norway.
Attack the Crimea from the sea
On the night of August 24 – Ukraine’s Independence Day – marines from Ukraine carried out an operation on the Russian-occupied territory of Crimea.
Under the cover of night, the soldiers went ashore in Western Crimea. According to text and images released by Ukrainian intelligence, they abandoned the Ukrainian flag and launched an operation against Russian forces.
“Enemy personnel lost and enemy equipment destroyed,” the report continued.
Ukrainian intelligence also released a video of the attack.
The symbolic move was praised by Ukrainians on social media.
– I don’t know that the same people that we trained did the test, Sten Richard Larson tells VG.
– But we have taught them the necessary skills to perform such activities, he says.
Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported Following the move, several Russian sources dismissed it as unimportant. But other prominent military bloggers are said to have expressed concern that it could undermine Russian security of the Crimean peninsula.
The images, which the command of the Norwegian Navy and Coast Guard now shares with VG, show how small-scale soldiers cross the water in inflatable boats.
And how they come ashore with less signature: how to avoid being seen or heard as they go ashore.
The commander of the coastal hunters says that Norway cooperated with the relevant departments in Great Britain and the Netherlands to support the Ukrainian navy.
– In the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive, Ukraine needs soldiers trained for maritime operations. That’s the Coast Guard’s expertise, so we’re happy to contribute what we can, Larson says.
But current knowledge of military operations went both ways in Norway throughout the weeks:
– Ukrainians have shared with us new knowledge about how to conduct a high-intensity war in 2023. This has already led to the renewal of our training program for Norwegian coastal hunters, says Sten Richard Larsson.
– They have contacted the military forces of Ukraine on the battlefield. The short version is that Russia doesn’t care about the rules of war, he says.
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