May 16, 2024  Antiwar.com

 

NYT reports NATO countries are “inching closer” to obliging the request.

Ukrainian officials have asked NATO countries to send troops to Ukraine to help train 150,000 new recruits, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

The report said NATO countries are “inching closer” to sending trainers, which would mark a significant escalation and risk direct war with Russia. A small number of NATO special operations forces have been inside Ukraine — 97 as of March 2023 — but an open deployment to train a large number of Ukrainian troops would take things to another level.

The US and NATO had been training Ukrainian troops inside Ukraine before Russia’s February 2022 invasion. Since then, the training has been held in Germany and other parts of Europe, but Kyiv wants to shift it back inside Ukraine so the Ukrainian recruits can be quickly deployed to the frontlines. So far, the US has not agreed to the request, but it appears Washington is considering it.

The Times cited a US official who said one possibility could be to train Ukrainian troops in Lviv, a western Ukrainian city that’s near the Polish border. Russia has bombed Lviv throughout the war, including strikes a few weeks ago that targeted energy infrastructure.

In comments on Thursday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown said a NATO training deployment was an inevitability but appeared to rule it out for now. “We’ll get there eventually, over time,” he told reporters while on his way to Brussels. He said that if they were sent now, it would put “a bunch of NATO trainers at risk” and that Ukraine would have to choose whether to use air defenses to protect them or infrastructure near the frontlines.

Other countries have expressed interest in sending troops to Ukraine despite the risk of sparking a direct war with Russia, which could quickly turn nuclear. French President Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly stated that sending troops wouldn’t be ruled out, and Lithuania has said it’s prepared to send trainers.

An Estonian official said the Baltic nation is “seriously” discussing the idea of sending troops to western Ukraine to fill duties that free up Ukrainian soldiers so they can be deployed to the front.