“Grenade!” one screams in Ukrainian. Another yells: “Let's go, let's go, let's go, let's go!”
This time, no lives or limbs were lost. Because this time, the rounds fired were blanks and the “enemy” troops were, in fact, French soldiers whose intention was not to kill the Ukrainians but instead to help shape them into better, more lethal warriors.
But soon, the war games these troops played in the mud in France will become all too real, when the Ukrainians return home and are sent to the front lines against Russia's forces.
As the Russian invasion grinds into a second winter and casualties — already estimated in the hundreds of thousands — continue to mount on both sides, combat training programs provided by Ukraine's allies are helping it hold out and its odds of eventual victory. By continuing to prepare Ukrainian troops for battle even as the Israel-Hamas war diverts global attention, Ukraine's backers also are making concrete their promises to stick with it for the long haul.
France is on course to have trained 7,000 Ukrainians this year — some in Poland, others at French bases — as part of a European Union military assistance mission for Ukraine that launched a year ago this week. The French…