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21 Feb, 2022 21:16

Ukraine and EU agree on joint military mission – Kiev

The move comes amid a sharp spike in fighting in the war-torn Donbass region
Ukraine and EU agree on joint military mission – Kiev

Ukraine has effectively sealed a deal on establishing an EU military training mission in the country, Kiev’s top diplomat has revealed, amid an increasingly tense situation on its shared border with Russia.

Speaking to reporters on Monday in Brussels, Dmitry Kuleba revealed that the bloc could soon take measures to assist Kiev’s armed forces.

“We reached an agreement with the EU in principle that the EU will roll out advisory training in Ukraine,” he said. However, he went on to say such a deal would not include combat forces.

Brussels will also “offer a set of proposals on strengthening our cyber security,” the diplomat added.

Kuleba’s remarks come amid worsening tensions on the Russian-Ukrainian border, which have escalated in the past few days. Kiev’s soldiers and those loyal to the two self-declared separatist republics in the Donbass have accused one another of heavy shelling, and international observers have warned that the situation could spill over into a resumption of full-scale hostilities.

The leaders of the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk announced on Friday that they had begun evacuating civilians to Russia and ordered the mobilization of all able-bodied men to be ready to take arms in a potential conflict.

Donetsk and Lugansk declared their autonomy from Kiev in 2014, following the events of the Maidan, when the government was toppled as a result of violent street protests. Russia announced it would recognize their independence on Monday evening, with Vladimir Putin signing an agreement into force with local leaders, and instructing his country's armed forces to begin a 'peacekeeping' mission in the region.

American and European officials have been warning for months that Russia’s armed forces are preparing an invasion of Ukraine. Moscow has repeatedly insisted that it has no aggressive intentions toward its neighboring country and has hit out at Western military presence close to its borders.

In November, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed that “more and more forces and equipment are being accumulated on the line of contact in the Donbass, supported by an increasing number of Western instructors.”