LUXEMBOURG (AFP) – The European Union (EU) stepped up its military support for Ukraine yesterday by launching a mission to train 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers and providing EUR500 million more for weapons.
Foreign ministers from the bloc’s 27 members states are expected to sign off on the decisions at a meeting in Luxembourg and will also discuss how to respond to Russia’s use of Iranian-made drones.
“Morally politically, even militarily, Russia is losing this war. So we have to continue supporting Ukraine,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell at the start of the gathering.
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 (US), Canada and Britain have already been training thousands of troops.
The European training mission should become operational next month even if the final details are still being hammered out.
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 the 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.