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21 May, 2024 04:03

Nuland comments on potential official NATO deployment to Ukraine

The presence of Western instructors would “directly implicate” the US-led bloc, the former official has said
Nuland comments on potential official NATO deployment to Ukraine

Former US diplomat Victoria Nuland has argued that officially sending Western instructors into Ukraine would create unnecessary risks – as NATO already provides a “huge amount” of training for Kiev’s forces on member states' territory.

Facing a severe troop shortage, Kiev has allegedly asked the US and NATO to help train some 150,000 new recruits inside Ukraine, so they can be sent to the front faster, the New York Times reported last week.

In an interview with ABC on Sunday, Nuland – who was responsible for Ukraine in her State Department role and served as US ambassador to NATO – acknowledged Russia’s renewed offensive is making it hard for Ukrainian troops to “come off the front” and train abroad. However, she warned against sending Western instructors in.

“I worry that NATO training bases inside Ukraine will become a target for Vladimir Putin. And it does directly implicate NATO on the ground, which could… escalate the war in a different direction and cause Putin to think that NATO territory might be fair game for him,” Nuland said.

The White House has repeatedly insisted that it will not deploy American troops – even instructors – in Ukraine. The retired US diplomat argued that “it still makes most sense to do most of the training outside of Ukraine but to give advice inside Ukraine.”

The US-led military bloc has been training Ukrainian soldiers on the territory of member states including the UK, Germany and Poland, teaching them how to use Western-provided weapons. European officials have previously acknowledged the presence of some military personnel in Ukraine since the outbreak of the conflict in 2022, without clarifying whether they were training local forces.

However, on Monday Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas claimed that military personnel from some NATO member states are already training Ukrainian soldiers inside the country. She insisted this will not lead to a direct confrontation with Russia because the personnel are doing it “at their own risk.”

French President Emmanuel Macron first raised the issue of sending NATO troops to Ukraine back in February, calling it 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. 

In early May, the Russian Defense Ministry estimated that Ukrainian military losses had surpassed 111,000 this year alone. Kiev now intends to mobilize hundreds of thousands of additional troops under a new law cracking down on draft avoidance.

Over the past six weeks, Russian forces have taken more territory than Ukraine managed to capture in the six months of its failed counter-offensive last year, the Washington Post admitted last week, citing numbers from the Institute for the Study of War, a DC-based think tank run by Kimberly Kagan – Victoria Nuland’s sister-in-law.