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8 May, 2024 08:31

NATO state ready to send troops to Ukraine – PM

Lithuania is waiting for Kiev’s request to send in military trainers, the nation’s prime minister has said
NATO state ready to send troops to Ukraine – PM

Lithuania is prepared to deploy soldiers on Ukrainian soil for a training mission, the country's prime minister Ingrida Simonyte told the Financial Times on Wednesday.

French President Emmanuel Macron floated the idea of having NATO boots on the ground in Ukraine in February, arguing that nothing should be excluded to prevent a Russian victory in the conflict. The Lithuanian government has similarly stated that there should be no red lines in efforts to aid Kiev.

Speaking to the British newspaper, Simonyte said she has parliamentary permission to deploy soldiers in Ukraine, but has not received a request from Kiev. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmigal told Canadian media last week that his nation would be “glad” to see Western intervention “if the time comes.”

Lithuania is among the Western nations that regularly resort to rhetoric Russia regards as belligerent. Last month, one of its ambassadors published a post on social media which implied that the strategic Crimean Bridge would soon be destroyed – one of Kiev’s key goals. The comment followed US approval of $61 billion in Ukraine-related spending and the revelation that it had supplied more mid-range ATACMS missiles to the country.

This week, the Russian military announced a surprise drill to test its ability to deploy non-strategic nuclear weapons. Moscow said it was a response to “threats” from Western officials, including Macron and British Foreign Secretary David Cameron, who told the media last week that Ukraine “has the right” to use arms donated by the UK to strike targets deep inside Russia.

In her interview, Simonyte said she was not concerned about Moscow’s reaction to the possible Lithuanian deployment. “Every second week you hear that somebody will be nuked,” she remarked.

The prime minister reiterated that Vilnius was “keen to help Ukraine, to ensure that it has the potential to renew its armed forces.” She denied that her government was considering deportations of Ukrainian citizens, since forcing them to go home to fight Russia “would not be legal.”

Ukrainian mobilization efforts have been undermined by draft avoidance and public resistance to the heavy-handed approach shown by conscription officers, as shown in multiple video clips circulating online. This week, the military recruitment center in Khmelnytsky Region in western Ukraine threatened prison terms of up to eight years for filming its officers at work.

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