EU to unveil Ukraine training mission, weapons fund support
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is set to announce next week that it’s setting up a military training mission in Europe for thousands of Ukrainian troops and will provide around half a billion more euros (dollars) to help buy weapons for the war-torn country, diplomats and officials said Friday.
The aim is to train almost 15,000 Ukrainian troops in a number of EU countries, chiefly Poland and Germany, the officials said. It would range from standard military training to specialized instruction, based on Ukraine’s needs. The EU hopes to have it operational by mid-November.
EU foreign ministers will endorse the plans at a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday. The officials and diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity to provide details before the plans are officially announced.
Several EU and NATO nations are already helping to train the Ukraine armed forces on a bilateral basis, but diplomats said that this would be more cost effective and efficient — with a centralized command structure better able to address Ukraine’s needs — when done as a collective effort.
NATO started training military instructors in Ukraine after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. The military alliance believes that training the trainers is the most effective way of helping Ukraine’s armed forces as it does not require troops needed for battle to leave the country.
At their meeting in Luxembourg, the ministers will also approve a sixth tranche of money, worth around 500 million euros (dollars), from European Peace Facility — a fund being used to reimburse member countries that provide weapons, ammunition and non-lethal military support to Ukraine.
It will bring to just around 3.1 billion euros the total EU sum in security support being made available for Ukraine. Individual countries are also spending more on top of that.
The decisions are set to be announced almost eight months after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. Earlier this week, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell criticized the 27-nation bloc for being too slow to come to the country’s aid.
“We had been discussing about the Ukrainian training mission before the war. Before the war. For months, for months before the war,” Borrell, who will chair Monday’s meeting, told a conference of EU ambassadors.
“Then the war comes and people said, ‘Oh, we should have done it.’”