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Highlanders prepare to fight, with a Ukrainian Cossack Mace

Over the next few week soldiers from the 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (4 SCOTS), will be in Ukraine taking part in Exercise Cossack Mace, in partnership with soldiers from the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU).

Soldiers from Catterick based 4 SCOTS will take part in a series of testing serials that will focus on their infanteering skills and co-operation with friendly militaries.

Following an initial focus on those low-level infantry skills and trades that form the basis of a professional infanteers job, the exercise will move onto a larger scale to develop higher level co-ordination and allied activity. Both nations will be able to practice their skills in the field and continue to develop their high-quality capabilities.

As well as continuing to practice their military skills both sides will take time out to learn something about each other’s cultures and history, an opportunity to find out about each other’s difference but also a large amount of shared viewpoints and culture.

With the AFU experiences in Eastern Ukraine and ours in Afghanistan and Iraq there is much experience and knowledge to exchange. The mutual respect built during this exercise will benefit both countries in future collaboration.

4 SCOTS are a mechanised infantry Battalion based in Catterick. They recruit mainly from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and their traditions, built around the historical Highland Regiments, can be traced back hundreds of years and encompass every major conflict the British Army has taken part in.

In recent years they have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Highland soldiers have a worldwide reputation for skill and ferociousness in combat and this, along with the famous Kilts and Pipes & Drums of a Scottish soldier make 4 SCOTS and the Royal Regiment of Scotland one of the most distinctive and well-known infantry units in the world.

The AFU itself has a long military tradition, the Exercise name harks back to the widely known and feared Cossack light cavalry, many of whom came from Ukraine, that themselves had an international reputation for prowess in battle over hundreds of years, fighting off Napoleon, Hitler and other invaders.

In more recent history during World War Two Ukrainian soldiers were key to defeating the Axis forces on the Eastern front, fighting in all parts of the victorious Red Army, often over battlefields across their own country. Although our adversaries during the Cold War, following the end of the Soviet Union, the UK recognised independent Ukraine in 1991.

Relationships between British and Ukrainian governments and Armed Forces have gone from strength to strength in the last thirty years and the exercise reinforces this growing tradition of cooperation that looks to continue into the future.

With Ukraine looking to improve their interaction and interoperability with NATO this Bilateral exercise is a visible commitment to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Government and highlights the United Kingdom’s desire to support Ukraine.

The UK is committed to a rules based international order and the implementation of the Minsk agreements to deliver a peaceful resolution to the conflict in full respect of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.