Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine has seen international condemnation and dozens of nations sending military and humanitarian aid to help Kyiv resist the imperial conquests of Moscow. One of Ukraine’s biggest supporters has been the United Kingdom, a historical geopolitical rival of Russia and its global ambitions for hundreds of years.

The United Kingdom has endured a bitter and slow decline post WWII. As former PM Anthony Eden stated, the “winds of change” came to a point where the British had to acknowledge they were no longer the top superpower in the world and decolonization was inevitable.

Background and Aid to Ukraine’s Army

Decades of decolonization and drawdowns of the Kingdom’s armed forces greatly affected Britain, as the nation became increasingly reliant on American backing. The economy had gradually declined with an ever-bleak economic recession in the wake of Brexit—something the Kremlin backed itself. Nonetheless, the country made efforts into creating its own defense industry while most of Europe went through decades of stagnation when they remained under the American nuclear umbrella.

When Russia decided to invade and annex Crimea, along with sending thousands of FSB to instigate war in the Donbas region, the British were the first to answer the call of preparing Kyiv for a protracted conflict. Ukraine’s military was in a cataclysmic state in wake of Russia’s first invasion in 2014. Mass defections to the Russian military and a poor command and logistical structure allowed Russian special forces and FSB officers to gain a foothold in the Donbas region, planting seeds for a full-scale war.

If it wanted to, Moscow could’ve potentially overthrown the Ukrainian government and taken control of large swaths of territory in 2014 before Kyiv spent years preparing for the inevitable. This is where Britain helped turn the tide of the effectiveness of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Training the Ukrainian Armed Forces to the NATO Doctrine

The British government was one of the first to prepare the ZSU and organize them in the more competent Western NATO doctrine of warfare. Training and funding has been ongoing since 2014, and Kyiv’s general command has praised the British Royal Army in their embedded training courses on their soil.

The renewed conversion to Western military doctrine has been essential for Ukraine, as at the beginning of Russia’s all-out assault, they were able to repel their advances toward Kyiv and organize tactical withdrawals in key areas without having thousands of troops flee in a disorganized manner or captured at once as seen in 2014.