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19 Mar, 2024 10:15

NATO troops active in Ukraine – El Pais

Western personnel are on the ground to oversee Kiev’s use of foreign-supplied weapons, the newspaper has claimed
NATO troops active in Ukraine – El Pais

Active and former military personnel from NATO states have long been operating in Ukraine, overseeing Kiev’s use of Western-supplied weapons, El Pais reported on Monday.

The US-led military bloc has been involved “in virtually every possible aspect” of the hostilities aside from active combat operations, the Spanish newspaper claimed. That includes supplying weapons, providing targeting information, and training Ukrainian soldiers inside the country, El Pais reported, citing interviews conducted throughout the conflict.

Retired foreign military service members who have joined the Ukrainian armed forces as “volunteers” are also serving as de facto agents for their home nations, El Pais said. They provide “knowledge about the situation on the front, to identify the effectiveness of the weapons supplied and possible problems in their use, as well as to detect possible cases of corruption concerning the aid provided,” the outlet claimed.

The presence of current and former NATO troops has been tacitly admitted by officials, the Spanish newspaper reported. It described recent suggestions by French President Emmanuel Macron that Western nations could send soldiers to Ukraine as “taboo-breaking,” in the sense of proposing active combat roles for Western military personnel.

While a handful of Western leaders have backed Macron’s position that deployments to aid Kiev in the conflict with Russia cannot be ruled out, numerous officials – including NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg – have dismissed the idea.

Moscow perceives the Ukraine conflict as a US-led proxy war against Russia, in which Ukrainians serve as ‘cannon fodder’ for Western interests. It considers foreigners fighting for Kiev as “mercenaries” who are doing the bidding of Western governments.

“We hear both French and English speech there [in the Ukraine conflict]. There is nothing good in this, first of all for them, because they die there and in large numbers,” President Vladimir Putin said last week, commenting on Macron’s remarks on potential Western troop deployments.

Senior Russian officials have suggested that more complex weapon systems provided to Kiev are highly likely operated by NATO staff, as there was not sufficient time to train Ukrainians on how to handle them.

Last month, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz revealed the involvement of British and French forces in preparing Ukrainian missile launches, as he explained why Berlin would not supply similar weapons to Kiev.