BRUSSELS – The European Union on Monday approved a military training mission in Europe for thousands of Ukrainian troops and a plan to provide around 500 million euros ($486 million) in extra funds to help buy weapons for the war-torn country.
The mission, which will have a headquarters in Brussels and be under the command of French naval officer Vice Adm. Herve Blejean, will initially run for two years with a budget of almost 107 million euros ($104 million).
EU headquarters said in a statement that the mission’s aim is to allow the Ukrainian armed forces to “effectively conduct military operations,” so that Ukraine can “defend its territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, effectively exercise its sovereignty and protect civilians.”
It said that the EU will provide “individual, collective and specialized training.” Countries that aren't part of the bloc will be allowed to take part in the training effort. The aim initially is to train about 15,000 Ukrainian troops, chiefly in Poland and Germany.
It's hoped that the mission will be up and running by mid-November.
Several EU and NATO nations are already training Ukraine’s armed forces on a bilateral basis. Asked what added value the Brussels-headquartered mission would bring, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Monday that he’s “strongly convinced that putting together the capacities of the European armies we can offer a much better product.”
NATO started training military instructors in Ukraine after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. The military alliance believes that training the trainers is the most effective way of helping Ukraine’s armed forces as it doesn't require troops needed for battle to leave the country.
The EU also approved a sixth tranche of money, worth 500 million euros ($486 million), from the European Peace Facility — a fund being used to reimburse member countries that provide weapons, ammunition and non-lethal military support to Ukraine.
Around 10 million euros ($9.7 million) from that sum will be used to provide equipment and supplies, like personal protection gear, first-aid kits and fuel.
It brings to just over 3 billion euros ($2.9 billion) the total EU sum in security support being made available for Ukraine. Individual countries are also spending more on top of that. The decisions will come almost eight months after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.
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