Berliner Tageblatt - EU to launch training mission for Ukraine troops

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EU to launch training mission for Ukraine troops
EU to launch training mission for Ukraine troops / Photo: © AFP

EU to launch training mission for Ukraine troops

The EU is set to step up its military support for Ukraine on Monday by launching a mission to train 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers and providing 500 million euros more for weapons.

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Foreign ministers from the bloc's 27 members states are expected to sign off on the decisions at a meeting in Luxembourg and diplomats say the mission should become operational next month.

"It's a big first for the EU," said one European diplomat.

"We've never done a training mission of that scope."

After almost eight months of war, Ukraine's forces are making progress on the battlefield and Kyiv's western backers are keen to make sure its troops have the capacity to keep fighting.

Several EU nations -- including Germany and France -- are already training Ukrainians to use the modern artillery systems, missile launchers and air defences they are delivering to Kyiv.

But the EU has lagged behind in providing large-scale training to help the country's military face off against Russia's invading forces.

The United States, Canada and Britain have already been training thousands of troops.

London is aiming to train 10,000 within this year and looking to more than double that next year.

The final details of the European training are still being hammered out.

But an official said the plan is initially to provide basic training to 12,000 soldiers and specialised instruction to 2,800 more.

Ukraine's neighbour Poland is due to serve as the main hub for the mission.

"It is the way out for the Ukrainians and way back in," said one European diplomat.

Germany is also set to be a key staging post for training.

Programmes currently run by individual member states are set to continue and could be incorporated in the EU mission later.

"Everyone in the EU will do what they can do in correspondence to the needs of Ukrainians," the diplomat said.

The diplomat said a budget of some 60 million euros per year was foreseen.

The exact amount should be agreed on Monday, along with a new tranche of 500 million euros ($486 million) in EU central funding to help cover the costs of arms sent to Ukraine.

- Iranian drones -

That new slice of money will take the overall contribution for weapons from the EU's central coffers to 3 billion euros. Member states have also spent more from their own pockets.

"The budget for seven years has been spent in seven months, so come on, we really mean business," said an EU official.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will speak to his EU counterparts by video link and is expected to repeat calls for more arms, increased financial aid and tougher sanctions against Moscow.

EU ministers are set to discuss the alleged use of Iranian-made drones by Moscow to hit targets in Ukraine, but no punishment is expected yet over the issue.

Tehran has rejected accusations it has supplied Russia with weapons "to be used in the war in Ukraine".

Brussels says it is conducting a probe in possible violations of a United Nations resolution.

"If we finally get our own independent assessment on this transfer, we will be taking action, of course," an EU official said.

Ministers are, however, due to take action against Iran on Monday over its crackdown on the protests over Mahsa Amini's death that have rocked the country.

Some 15 officials and entities, including the head of Iran's morality police, are expected to be added to an assets freeze and visa ban blacklist, EU diplomats said.

The EU, which is currently mediating stalled efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, has trailed behind Washington on imposing sanctions on Tehran.

M.Odermatt--BTB