The “Dnipro Devils” making waves with special forces missions on the Russian-occupied left-bank of southern Ukraine have had training with the UK’s Royal Marines, the UK Government has revealed.

The Royal Navy issued a statement saying that “while 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.”

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

 “Royal Marines have spent more than 6 months training about 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers in the art of commando raiding and complex amphibious operations,” the statement said.

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The British-provided instruction included “how to plan and carry out raids using small boats by day and night.”

One unnamed Ukrainian marine is quoted saying that “the training I have received from the UK Royal Marines has been far more intense than I expected.”

“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,” he said.

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

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 Some 900 Ukrainian troops undertook and completed a specific five-week program, including instruction in survival, first aid, close quarters combat, demolition, drone reconnaissance and unit-level planning.

Weapons training included use of Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapons (NLAW) and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, drones for reconnaissance, and explosive demolition of obstacles such as “dragon’s teeth” anti-tank fortifications that are typically located along the so-called Surovikin Line constructed in occupied Ukraine by Russian forces.

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Trainees came from a variety of backgrounds from civilian volunteers with no prior military experience to those who have transferred from other sections within the Armed Forces of Ukraine – some having already been engaged in combat on the front line, the Royal Navy said.

Instructors from 42 Commando and 47 Commando Raiding Group delivered the training, alongside Army Commandos from 24 Commando Engineers and Royal Artillery Gunners from 29 Commando, the Royal Navy added.

As reported by Kyiv Post, a team of Ukrainian special forces soldiers crossed the Dnipro and Konka Rivers near Kherson and landed at the village of Kozachi Laheri. There, the “Dnipro Devils” managed to break through Russian lines and advance up to one kilometer.

Pro-Russian milbloggers, who blamed the incursion and set-back on “troop rotation” and “inexperience” of those on duty, have confirmed that Ukrainian forces continue to hold a bridgehead at Kozachi Laheri – as well as at Dachi near the Antonivka Bridge and potentially Oleshky.

“The [Kherson] region is far from the front lines in Zaporizhzhia, and the raids tie up Russian defenders who could otherwise be deployed to block Ukraine’s main attempts at an advance,” a British defense publication, Maritime Executive, pointed out.

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The training of Ukrainian marines is part of broader support provided by the UK.

The Ukrainian Naval Infantry – aka marines – also maintains its own small special forces unit in the form of the 73rd Marine Detachment. The detachment is named “Seals” after the US equivalent and is tasked with the same purpose, such as waterborne raids and missions.

More than 20,000 soldiers from the Armed Forces of Ukraine have received training in the UK since the start of 2022, learning essential frontline skills including trench and urban warfare, leadership, and medical training.

Military instructors from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden have also participated in the UK-led training program.

At the start of 2023, the UK committed to train 20,000 more Ukrainian recruits – approximately double the amount trained the previous year – under one of the largest training programs of its kind in the world, the Royal Navy’s statement said.

Russian milbloggers have used the term “devils” to describe the Ukrainian units wreaking havoc on Russian positions on the shores of the Dnipro River’s left bank, as well as its many islands and estuaries.

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