EU to train 30,000 Ukrainian troops, doubling former pledge
The European Union pledges to increase the number of Ukrainian troops it seeks to train by two-fold to 30,000.
The European Union is increasing by two-fold the number of Ukrainian troops it aims to train to 30,000 as Brussels seeks more ways to help Ukraine, EU officials said on Wednesday.
The 27-nation bloc established in November a training program for the Ukrainian military, with the initial goal of training 15,000 people.
"This will be reached probably before the end of the second quarter of this year and there will be a new additional target of a further 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers trained by various European countries," an EU official said.
"So that will bring the number of Ukrainian soldiers trained in this scheme to 30,000."
The enhanced number, which will be formally confirmed at an EU-Ukraine conference in the Ukrainian capital on Friday, comes as European allies expand military backing for Ukraine.
Several EU countries have agreed to supply Ukraine with German-made Leopard 2 tanks and are currently training Ukrainian forces to deploy them. It remained unknown whether this training is covered by the EU program.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Spanish government announced plans to send up to six Leopard 2A4 tanks to Ukraine, while discussing plans with the country's military industry, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported.
According to the publication, the final decision on the number of tanks to be delivered to Ukraine will be based on the condition of 53 vehicles that have been stationed in reserve at the Zaragoza facility for decades.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz vowed to deliver 14 Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine, government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit told reporters last Wednesday.
"On Wednesday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced in the cabinet that Germany would further increase its military support for Ukraine," Hebestreit said. "The federal government had decided to provide the Ukrainian armed forces with Leopard 2 main battle tanks."
The objective now is to "quickly raise two tank battalions with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine." This will happen over two stages. First, "Germany will provide a company of 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from the stocks of the Bundeswehr."
Then, Germany's European partners will deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine while Germany will offer a new package for the anti-Russia war. The package will include ammunition, system maintenance, and assistance in logistics, Hebestreit stated
German's decision to send the Leopard tanks to Ukraine stems from talks with the country's European and International partners, given that significant consequences will follow such a decision.
In turn, the Russian Embassy in Germany cautioned that “this extremely dangerous decision shifts the Ukrainian conflict to a new level of standoff,” adding that "Berlin’s choice to supply tanks to Kiev means the final rejection of Germany’s historical responsibility to the Russian people."
Meanwhile, US media reported that US President Joe Biden is set to announce the delivery of 30-50 Abrams tanks to Ukraine as soon as Wednesday.
The Russian Ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, warned that the delivery will become another "blatant provocation" against Russia and warned that the Russian military would destroy the equipment.
According to Antonov, a decision to transfer to Kiev M1 Abrams is made, and American tanks "without any doubt" will be destroyed along with "all other samples of NATO military equipment."
The ambassador added that the US is trying to inflict strategic defeat on Russia and "gives 'green light' to use of American assistance for attacks on the Crimea."
This reaffirmed Russia's argument, according to the ambassador, that Ukraine and the West want neither peace nor diplomacy.