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17 May, 2024 17:38

NATO members ‘considering’ sending troops to Ukraine – NYT

Some US defense contractors are reportedly already there, repairing weapons provided to Kiev
NATO members ‘considering’ sending troops to Ukraine – NYT

Several US allies within NATO are “inching closer” to sending soldiers into Ukraine to train its armed forces, the New York Times has reported. Some American military contractors are already on the ground to repair US-supplied weapons systems.

Facing troop shortages, the government in Kiev has asked the US and NATO to “help train 150,000 new recruits” inside Ukraine, so they could be sent to the front faster, according to the American outlet.

The move “would be another blurring of a previous red line” and could draw the US and the EU “more directly into the war,” the Times noted. Although the White House has publicly opposed sending instructors, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thinks it is inevitable.

“We’ll get there eventually, over time,” General Charles Q. Brown Jr. told reporters on Thursday, while traveling to Brussels.

One problem with deploying NATO instructors to Ukraine would be having to shift already scarce air defenses away from the battlefield in order to protect them from Russian air and missile strikes, the Times noted. According to the outlet, the US would be obligated to defend any NATO instructors inside Ukraine from attack, “potentially dragging America into the war.”

French President Emmanuel Macron first raised the issue of sending NATO troops to Ukraine back in February, as an idea that should not be ruled out. Estonia and Lithuania have since expressed support for either sending instructors or support troops, to free up Ukrainian soldiers for combat duty. 

The White House is “adamant” that it will not put American troops on the ground in Ukraine – including instructors – and has urged NATO allies not to do it either, an anonymous White House official told the Times.

Meanwhile, Britain, France and Germany are working on a plan to send contractors to maintain weapons in the combat zone, the US outlet has revealed. Though the US has banned defense contractors from going to Ukraine, “a small number have already been allowed in, under State Department authority, to work on specific weapons systems like Patriot air defenses,” the Times noted.

American instructors used to be part of a NATO training program in Yavorov, in western Ukraine, but were withdrawn in early 2022. Russia has since struck the facility with missiles multiple times.

NATO has trained tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops in Germany, Poland, the UK and elsewhere. Western tactics have proven less than adequate during the summer 2023 offensive, however. The Times has described the Ukrainian battlefield as “far different and more intense than what American forces have fought on in recent years.”

According to anonymous US military officials, training inside Ukraine would allow American instructors “to more quickly gather information about the innovations occurring on the Ukrainian front lines, potentially allowing them to adapt their training.”

Earlier this week, British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said that “moving training closer” to Ukraine would make sense, but added that London did not want to put British troops on the ground.