A former soldier in the elite British Special Forces has said the recent attacks on the Crimea Bridge are further evidence of the effectiveness of the UK’s training of Ukraine’s special forces.

Rob Paxman, 55, who served as a corporal in the Special Air Service (SAS) and now runs Paradigm Security Solutions UK, said: “It’s an absolutely classic SAS offensive action.

Asked about how good Kyiv’s most elite troops are, he adds: “They are probably the best special forces I have worked with.

Paxman was not surprised by a recent article in the UK media claiming that British forces are training an elite Ukrainian commando brigade aimed at recapturing Crimea before Christmas.

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“The SAS has been training Ukrainian Special Forces since the late 1990s, and they are very, very good,” he said.

According to reports, more than 2,000 soldiers are taking part in specialist exercises in a remote part of Dartmoor. Their goal is to strike Russian forces from the air, land and sea.

Armored units would also be supplied with new long-range missiles by the UK, US and Germany.

This news follows hot on the heels of Ukrainian intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov making clear Ukrainian forces would enter Crimea “soon.”

He even made a broadcast in Ukrainian and Russian to regions annexed by Russia saying: “The Donbas and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea will be coming home forever.

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“We are going to find every traitor in Ukraine, wherever they might be. All of them will be destroyed. I say to all patriots: the time has come to act. Stay tuned. We’re coming to you.”

Other British involvement was revealed last year by the British media, detailing how the British Navy’s Special Boat Service (SBS) trained Ukrainian Commandos to help them recapture Snake Island, a rocky piece of land in the Black Sea, 22 miles (35 km) off Ukraine’s south coast.

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The SBS taught Ukrainian combat divers how to operate underwater vehicles known as sea scooters and instructed them on how to search the coastline for explosives before they attacked Russian forces with a barrage of missiles, rockets and drones.

While he is no longer part of Britain’s special forces, Paxman’s company has been training foreign volunteers who have gone to Ukraine to fight against Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Speaking from his base in Shrewsbury, Rob, who trains people in how to work in conflict zones around the world, said he runs three courses for his would-be fighting volunteers.

These include 21 days of training in basic close protection, 16 days of advanced covert surveillance, and another 16 days of hostile environment training.

“It’s a series of courses bolted together to make a more rounded operator,” he said. He started the training two years ago when approached by a soldier who wanted to fight in Ukraine.

During training, they use simulations, which are special cartridges that fire colored paint-filled plastic projectiles which are used to mark targets much like paintballs, and airsoft guns which launch non-metallic spherical projectiles.

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“We use these to prevent any injuries,” he said. “By the time they finish the training they are doing live firing on the ranges.”

Before he takes anyone on for training, they have to be vigorously checked out by the SIA (Security Industry Authority) and by his own firm for any criminal activity or wrongdoing.

He turns away people who have failed in the military and the “Walter Mitty” types who indulge in fantasies and don’t comprehend the harsh realities of war.

He tells them this conflict is “a lot more bloody and gory than you can possibly imagine.”

The training his company offers he regards as of a higher standard than that offered by the Ministry of Defence here in the UK. “They do infantry training, while we deal with the threat to life training.”

Nobody knows how many foreign volunteer fighters there are in Ukraine, but estimates claim there are up to 20,000, of which 3,000 are from Britain.

Rob is a one-man operation, giving specialist training. Over the last two years, he has trained 10 to 15 men and 5 or 6 women. He gets two to three inquiries a month.

From those that have gone to Ukraine, Rob has had positive feedback, including messages that some of them have picked up medals from their work in fighting and in training soldiers in Ukraine.

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One of his recruits, Shareef Amin, from Bristol, received a bravery award from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and was recently featured in a BBC news bulletin.

He had suffered horrific injuries when his unit came under attack from Russian tanks in October.

Shareef, known as Rambo by his comrades, spent months in a military hospital in Odesa, where surgeons saved his arm and leg. The Afghan veteran was then brought back to Britain for surgery and recovery. He then did more training with Rob and other soldiers before heading back to the frontline in Ukraine.

Another important aspect of Rob’s work is security. He has trained around 600 people in the UK and a few thousand overseas in places like Libya, Syria, and Iraq. He joined the army in the early 1990s and left in 2000.

“I served in the Middle East, Bosnia, former Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland,” he said. “Post-military I have spent a lot of time in Southern Sudan, Afghanistan, and Iraq, doing reconstruction projects and securing supply lines.”

In the past, he has given security protection to high-profile figures that he can’t mention, including numerous heads of state, billionaires and Russian oligarchs, though that was before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Although he has not been to Ukraine, he has been approached to do three security jobs and is hoping to visit soon.

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With the Americans behind them, Paxman believes Ukraine can win this war.

“Americans are banking on the reconstruction of Ukraine, that’s where they are going to make their money, plus on the sales of arms and ammunition,” he says.

“The Russians are doing the same. They have got their oligarchs on the other side that are making an absolute packet out of this conflict.”

He adds: “At some stage, whether it will be months or a couple of years down the line, there will be a peace accord, and the reconstruction will go ahead. Many people will again make lots of money.”

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