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30 Aug, 2022 11:25

EU weighs in on training Ukraine's military

Josep Borrell says that such a program for Kiev could be approved on Tuesday
EU weighs in on training Ukraine's military

The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, has expressed hope that a bloc-wide training mission for Ukrainian troops will be approved at a ministerial meeting on Tuesday. Some member states, meanwhile, have voiced skepticism about such a move.

EU countries have been sending weapons to Ukraine since Russia launched its military operation in the neighboring country in February.

“The situation on the ground continues to be very bad. Ukraine needs our support, and we will continue providing support,” Borrell said, as quoted by Reuters, after arriving in Prague.

EU foreign and defense ministers are meeting in the Czech capital to discuss further military and financial aid to Kiev. Last week, Borrell proposed establishing a separate training program for Ukrainian troops, similar to the bloc’s existing military training mission in countries such as Chad and Niger.

“A general, overall political agreement [on the training mission] is what I think we have to get today ... I hope we will have a political green light for this mission,” Borrell told reporters in Prague, highlighting the urgency of the matter. “That’s the moment to act,” he stated.

According to a document cited by Bloomberg, Kiev has asked Brussels to arrange medical, demining and sniper training, among other areas.

The US and Britain have already been teaching Ukrainian troops urban combat and how to use Western-supplied heavy weapons.

“A number of EU countries are already hosting training facilitation for Ukrainians but I think it would be good to ... ensure that the EU collectively is doing that in an organized way that can last for some time,” said Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.

However, ministers from several other EU members voiced skepticism about the undertaking. “It remains to be seen whether this is the right way to help,” Luxembourg Defense Minister Francois Bausch said, as quoted by AFP. “I am not so convinced.” 

Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner told the news agency APA on Monday that Vienna had received the draft proposal about the training mission last week. “From our point of view, there are still many open questions at the moment,” Tanner said.

“The first question to be clarified is whether such a mission can exist at all,” she added.