EU agrees 'in principle' to military instructor mission: Ukraine

AFP , Monday 21 Feb 2022

Ukraine's foreign minister on Monday said the European Union had agreed "in principle" to set up an advisory military instructor mission in Ukraine, but the details have yet to be thrashed out.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks during a press conference after a Foreign Affairs Council meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels on February 21, 2022. AFP

The announcement comes as the West warns Russia could be gearing up to invade Ukraine after massing an estimated 150,000 troops at its border.

"We reached an agreement with the EU in principle that the European Union will roll out an advisory training military mission in Ukraine. These are not combat forces," Dmytro Kuleba told journalists after meeting EU counterparts in Brussels.

"The details, the main parameters and the timeline of this rollout are still to be discussed, but it's critical that we open this new page in our relations."

EU diplomats said the ministers' meeting in Brussels was expected to give the green light for the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to put forward a formal proposal for the mission.

Diplomats said the mission would likely begin as classroom-based courses to help improve Ukrainian officers.

It is expected to take at least six months to be set up, and it is not yet clear if EU military or civilian personnel would be involved.

Member states have been tussling for months over the makeup of a potential mission after a request submitted in July by Ukraine for the bloc to send military trainers.

Eastern nations more wary of the threat from Russia have pushed for a larger deployment to train Ukrainian forces, while others have sought to curb its scope.

Despite its limited nature, and deployment of personnel to Ukraine risks angering the Kremlin.

Moscow has issued demands for a raft of security guarantees from the United States and NATO, including calling for the removal of all Western trainers from Ukraine.

As Western capitals have warned that Moscow could attack without notice, the United States and Britain have already withdrawn some instructors from the country.

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