The US State Department on Friday announced that US troops will train regular Ukrainian soldiers later on in the year in an effort to strengthen Kiev’s security.
“The United States intends to continue training Ukrainian security forces this fall in western Ukraine,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner during a press conference.
Toner, providing detail on the mission, said that small-unit training exercises will be conducted by the US Army Europe in order to help Ukraine bolster its internal defence facilities.
“This training is part of our long-running defense cooperation with Ukraine and is taking place at the invitation of the Ukraine government. This additional program brings our total security assistance committed to Ukraine since 2014 to over $244 million,” said Toner.
Toner added the training will be in western Ukraine, near the Polish border.
Currently the US Army Europe is conducting a regional command post exercise called the “Rapid Trident” at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center (IPSC) in Yavoriv, Ukraine.
Around 1,800 personnel from 18 countries are participating in the exercise that started on July 20 and is expected to end on July 31.
The US Army Europe on its official webpage stated that the exercise will focus on crucial points “such as countering improvised explosive devices, convoy operations and patrolling.”
Reuters had reported that US Lieutenant General Ben Hodges earlier this month outlined that US officials were discussing the move to expand the training of Ukrainian troops.
Hodges also mentioned that US officials wanted to train the Ukrainian army and special operation soldiers in order for troops to develop skills like tactics and combat medicine, adding that its administration would not provide Ukraine with lethal arms.
Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014, the European Union and the United States have imposed economic sanctions on Moscow in order to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull out of Ukraine.
On June 5, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the US needs to do more than economic sanctions to reverse the Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.
Carter acknowledged “that sanctions are working on the Russian economy,” but added “it has not yet resulted in a change, in a reversal at least of course, which is what we want out of Russia.”
Three weeks later on June 23 Carter announced that the Pentagon will deploy tanks and heavy artilaries near the Russian borders in Eastern Europe and the Baltics in the wake of painful Ukraine crisis that has been annoying the NATO member states neighbouring with Russia.
The ongoing fight between the Ukrainian and pro-Russian separatist which began in April 2014 has claimed over 6,400 lives.