WASHINGTON, January 22 (Sputnik) — The training of the Ukrainian National Guard by the US Army Europe soldiers will start in spring following Kiev’s request, spokesman for US European Command David Westover told Sputnik on Thursday.
“The training, scheduled to begin in spring, comes at the request of the Ukrainian government as they work to reform their police forces and establish their newly formed National Guard,” Westover said adding that the mission is part of a US State Department initiative to assist Ukraine in strengthening its law enforcement capabilities, conducting internal defense, and maintaining rule of law.
“This training mission meets US and partner national interests by demonstrating US commitment to security in the Black Sea region, and demonstrating the value of forward stationed forces accustomed to training with partner nations,” Westover stressed.
The spokesman noted that the initiative to train the National Guard is still at the planning stage.
“We're still in the planning stages of determining which units will provide training and how many personnel will be required to train four maneuver companies and one tactical-level headquarters unit of Ukraine National Guard forces to standard,” Westover said.
The Ukrainian National Guard comprises of troops and activists from Maidan self-defense squads. Its fighters had been participating in Kiev's military operation in eastern Ukraine since when it started in April of 2014. In October 2014, the Russian Investigative Committee claimed it had irrefutable evidence of Ukraine’s National Guard and the Right Sector nationalist group’s participation in the mass killings.
Besides, there have been other cases of the National Guard fighters being allegedly involved in the killings of the civilian population in eastern Ukraine, including school shelling in Donetsk that claimed the lives of at least two children. Ukrainian authorities denied the accusations.
Clashes between Kiev forces and Donbas independence supporters intensified in the first weeks of 2015, despite a ceasefire agreement reached in September, and a «silence regime» introduced in the region on December 9.
The authorities of the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics repeatedly stated that Kiev was using truce period to strengthen its forces and prepare for a new offensive.
Last week, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk urged the country’s parliament to cancel the ceasefire, while Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s press service announced that Ukraine was regrouping its military and reinforcing units in "hot spots" in the country’s east.
In a statement published Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry called on parties involved in the Ukrainian conflict to immediately withdraw heavy artillery from the Donbas and fulfill other obligations they have under the Minsk agreements.