‘The Sun’: There is no secret now – Brit soldiers have trained 14,000 Ukrainian troops on a secret frontline base

11:51 24.05.2024 •

Brit soldier Dan Ridley (right) has been working with the Ukrainian forces since the start of the war.
Photo: ‘The Sun’

At a secret frontline base where Brits and US have trained 14,000 troops to blitz Russian troops, British soldier Dan Ridley casts his eye over the latest Ukrainian recruits, reveals “The Sun” from London.

Dan, 28, and his team of instructors at Trident Defense Initiative (TDI), will have trained over 14,000 Ukrainian soldiers since the start of the war.

The Sun was yesterday given exclusive access to the British-run HQ which is located just a few miles from the frontline in Ukraine's second largest city of Kharkiv.

But time is of the essence – more so now than ever, amid the relentless bombardment of the region and the advancing Russian troops.

There is a step change in the air – or as Dan puts it: “It feels like Russia's getting its forces together. Ukraine has stifled the push for now, it's definitely slowed, but this is only the start of a Summer offensive and there is more to come. We know the importance of what we're doing and the responsibility we have. That hasn't really changed. We are the only official training centre – and the largest – linked to the Ukrainian military. We now have about 40 instructors in total. We now have private direct donors from America and I've got a good budget now. I've been working with the heads of the region and the military commanders here for two years straight now. I submit numbers and the courses open and they send soldiers by order.”

Dan, originally of Croydon, south London, does not court the limelight. He doesn't have a TikTok account, is not all over social media and questions the motives of others who are now long gone from the frontline. He tells me we are the first to visit his newest training base which has been his HQ for three months now.

There were other bases, of course, but they were destroyed by Russian warheads.

In one attack, dramatic CCTV showed the moment five S-300 surface-to-air rockets wiped out the airfield he was using in October 2022.

He was originally a private for four years in the 2nd Battalion of The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. He travelled to Ukraine and joined the country's marines – along with fellow Brits Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin.

Shaun and Aiden were later captured by the Russians during the fall of Mariupol in April 2022 and sentenced to death. They were dramatically released months later as part of a prisoner swap.

The British-run HQ in Ukraine isn’t the only military operation helping to train and support the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Led by the British Army's 11th Security Force Assistance Brigade, Operation Interlex began in July 2022.

Approximately 1,050 British military personnel were placed on standby to assist with training, carried out at several sites across the UK.

By November 2023, over 30,000 Ukrainians had received training.

Classroom training taking place at the camp, only miles from the frontline
Photo: ‘The Sun’

Dan set up TDI and recruited fellow Brits, US Marines, Canadians and Australians to provide a bespoke training programme for troops. His deputy Chris Edwards, 42, left his wife and four kids behind in Portsmouth, Hants., to join him and has remained loyally by his side ever since. He says:

“We're offering them combat preparation as opposed to training. Training can take six months to a year, making them into a soldier. Combat preparation is done over a much smaller time-scale and it's to prepare people directly for combat instead of drills and locker inspections. Not all of them have combat experience. A week before we had 50 patrol police, like beat coppers, and we ran them through a tactical infantry course. Now we've got a special police unit and some of them have combat experience.”

Former US Marine Noah is among the instructors. He says: “I never got to do anything as a marine because I joined up during peacetime. All I did was train, so I decided to come over here. I've got other western friends – Canadians, Americans, Brits – who are fighting and I know them personally. I figured this would be a good place to learn the reality of what guys are dealing with and get a better perspective.”

Dan is not interested in fighting on the frontline, notes ‘The Sun”. It’s very dangerous…

…This is an unusual story when an English newspaper openly tells how British military personnel, together with soldiers from NATO countries, are engaged in Ukraine. These revelations  are only the tip of the iceberg. The question is – how could the NATO countries deny they are not taking part in the conflict?


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