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Ukrainians practice repairing German howitzers in Lithuania

Ukrainians practice repairing German howitzers in Lithuania

A group of Ukrainian military mechanics left Lithuania on Friday, after being trained to repair German howitzers supplied by Kyiv to defend against a Russian invasion.

Another 16 mechanics spent 15 days in the central city of Rukla, many of whom have already received initial training in Germany.

“They learned theoretical knowledge elsewhere, but (…) we taught them real-world things, frequent malfunctions that are not described in textbooks,” Lithuanian army major Zelvin Syrskus told AFP.

Lithuania, a member of NATO, has had these howitzers since 2016.

In June, Berlin said it had started supplying 155mm self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine.

Der Spiegel reported in November that they were suffering severe wear and tear from a heavy firing of up to 300 shells a day.

With no repair capacity in Ukraine, some of the howitzers were transferred to NATO countries, including Lithuania.

Mr Cerskus said this training would “save time and resources” as repairs can be done close to the battlefield “instead of waiting a month or two for repaired equipment to return from the alien.”

A Lithuanian military official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said a lack of routine maintenance is sometimes the reason why howitzers in Ukraine fail.

The Lithuanians have trained 500 Ukrainian soldiers in various exercises held this year, and they hope to triple that number next year.

“What motivates us is the common enemy,” Mr. Circus said.

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