The Ukrainians training to fight for their country deep in the East Anglian countryside

  • Watch Rob Setchell's report after he spent a day watching Ukrainian recruits training.

Sat on a mound of rubble, Alex describes his life before the Russian invasion.

His English is calm and clear, despite the camouflage mask covering his face.

"Before the Russian invasion, I worked in administration," he says.

"From the beginning it was really hard because I've just come from civilian life."

The Ukrainians are being trained in the East Anglian countryside Credit: ITV News Anglia

Alex is 33, a couple of years younger than me. A few weeks ago, he left his family in Ukraine and came to the UK to learn how to become a soldier.

Now, in September sunshine, at a training facility in the East Anglian countryside, I watch him complete the final drills of his five-week leadership course.

"I'm going to have a full platoon - 30 people - and I'm going to be a commander of these men and women," he says.

"I will try my best to bring them home alive and with victory."

The training covers trench and urban warfare, battlefield first aid - even cyber and drone attacks. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Today, it's blank rounds as the Ukrainians try and hold off an attack on a mock village, built to try and mirror conditions they could face back home.

But soon these soldiers will leave their British instructors and return home to war. Operation Interflex aims to prepare them for the realities of that.

It's basic military training, provided by the British, covering trench and urban warfare, battlefield first aid - even cyber and drone attacks.

They are being shown skills that will help them in the fight against Russia Credit: ITV News Anglia

More than 23,500 Ukrainians have been through it since the start of last year.

"We have principles of lethality, survivability and offensive spirit with Interflex," says Col James Thurstan, the operation's commander.

"In the short time we've got available to train each of these soldiers we want to give them enough skills to go back there and, dare I say it, be pound-for-pound better than their Russian opposition."

A mock village has been created in East Anglia that aims to replicate the conditions the troops will face in Ukraine Credit: ITV News Anglia

Among those offering guidance are reservists from the Royal Anglian Regiment.

2nd Lt Jake Stannard, whose day job is teaching sports science at Cambridge Regional College, says reservists have a "strong connection" with Ukrainian recruits.

"If you asked us before this mobilisation, we were all IT technicians, sport science lecturers, builders and bakers.

"So we're very sympathetic, very empathetic with them. We're able to make that connection and help them shift from a civilian mindset to a military mindset."

The training programme lasts five weeks Credit: ITV News Anglia

The UK's support for Ukraine doesn't just lie in expertise.

It has donated tanks, armoured vehicles and every soldier taking part in the training is given equipment and clothing.

But they have no need to supply motivation, spirit, unity. The exercise concludes with the Ukrainian national anthem.

Young men and women, who never thought they'd call themselves soldiers, stand side by side. Preparing, as best they can, to return home - so they can fight for it.

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