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Report: EU Mulls Ukrainian Military Training Mission

Ukrainian solders man trenches on the front line near Zolote in the Donbas.
Ukrainian solders man trenches on the front line near Zolote in the Donbas.

The European Union is considering a training mission for Ukrainian officers due to the "ongoing military activities" of Russia, according to an internal EU document.

With tensions between Kyiv and Moscow running high, some members of the bloc want Brussels to set up an independent training program called the EU Military Advisory and Training Mission Ukraine (EUATM), Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported on October 3, citing an EU policy paper it obtained.

"A military mission would underscore the visibility and commitment to the countries of the Eastern Partnership initiative," according to the working document from the European External Action Service, the EU's diplomatic service.

Such a military mission would also "be an expression of solidarity with Ukraine in view of the ongoing military activities of Russia on the borders with Ukraine and in the illegally annexed Crimea," the document said.

In addition to EUATM, the EU's diplomatic service led by top diplomat Josep Borrell is considering three other options to help improve Ukraine's military capabilities, according to the document.

One is to beef up the European Union Advisory Mission Ukraine, which was established in 2014 to help civilian security-sector reform. According to the report, the responsible EU ambassadors recently discussed in the document for the first time forming a political and security committee responsible for foreign and security policy.

The three EU Baltic states are especially pushing for the military training mission, as well as Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. Sweden and Finland have also expressed support.

Those EU members share similar concerns with Ukraine about Russian military drills on their borders, including the Zapad-2021 military exercises in September and a massive Russian troop build-up near Ukraine in April that raised concern in Kyiv and the West over Moscow's intentions.

Ukraine, which is not a NATO member, is seeking closer ties with the West and its militaries to help it fight Kremlin-backed separatists in a seven-year war that has killed more than 13,200 people in the east of the country.

In 2014, Russia occupied and annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, just before the war broke out.

With reporting by Welt am Sonntag
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