The European Union doubled its pledge to train Ukrainian forces from 15,000 to 30,000 troops. The EU made the announcement shortly after Berlin found Kiev was losing hundreds of soldiers a day fighting in just one Eastern Ukrainian city.
“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 on Wednesday, adding “that will bring the number of Ukrainian soldiers trained in this scheme to 30,000.”
Kiev is hosting a summit for the EU beginning on Friday. While Ukraine hopes to receive a path to EU membership during the meeting, that now appears unlikely. The increase in the number of troops to be trained is expected to be unveiled at the conference in Kiev.
Members of the EU pledged to send German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Kiev last week. It’s unclear what kind of training the 15,000 Ukrainian troops will receive, or whether they will learn how to operate the tanks.
The war has dragged on for nearly a year and Ukraine has reportedly suffered significant losses. In November, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said 120,000 Ukrainians had been killed, claiming 20,000 were civilians. More recently, the German foreign intelligence service has assessed that Kiev is losing a “three-digit number” of forces every day as Ukraine and Russia battle for the city of Bakhmut.
Kiev has used mass conscription to fill out its ranks, with the government going as far as barring all fighting-age men from leaving the country. Highlighting the inexperience of some new Ukrainian troops, Maj. Craig Hutton, a British officer who was overseeing a training program in August, said “we are running a basic infantry course, which takes Ukrainian recruits and teaches them to shoot well.”
The US recently expanded its training program for Ukrainian forces in Grafenwoehr, Germany. The Pentagon’s goal is to put 500 troops through “combined arms” training in a period of six to eight weeks. The British currently have a similar program. In Oklahoma, the Pentagon is also training about 100 Ukrainian troops on how to operate Patriot missile defense systems. As with the Americans and the British, the EU member states are similarly inching toward direct conflict with Moscow by deepening their involvement in the war.
While addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock recently declared “we are fighting a war against Russia.”