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U.S. To Start Training Ukrainian Army Troops This Fall

The United States will begin training Ukrainian Army troops this fall in an expansion of its military involvement in the divided country, the State Department has said.

U.S. troops have already deployed in small numbers to Ukraine to train National Guard forces, but under the new plan would also take on regular military units.

This will bring the total cost of a security assistance package for the embattled country -- locked in a conflict with pro-Russian separatists -- to $244 million since 2014.

But a spokesman said the training would take place in the west of the country, far from the front line in the rebellious east, and did not mark a major change in U.S. strategy.

"This is going to be small unit help strengthen Ukraine's internal defense capabilities," Mark Toner said. "This training is part of our long-running defense cooperation with Ukraine."

Toner said the United States would not be providing new equipment or new weaponry. "Our focus is on...nonlethal aid. And there is no plan to change that."

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP