WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The United States will begin training Ukraine’s military forces in April and the training will concentrate on improving Kiev’s defense capabilities, according to a US Department of Defense press release.
“We plan on sending about 290 US service members, specifically paratroopers from the [US Army’s] mighty 173rd ‘Sky Soldiers’ Airborne Brigade based in Vicenza, Italy… to train six Ukraine National Guard companies with a focus on internal security and territorial defense,” the press release, issued Friday, said.
The training will take place in Western Ukraine at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center in Yavoriv, according to the press release.
“This assistance is part of our ongoing efforts to help sustain Ukraine's defense and internal security operations. In particular, the training will help the Ukraine government develop its National Guard to conduct internal defense operations,” Defense Department spokesperson Eileen Lainez was quoted as saying in the release.
The US training mission will cost $19 million and will also include equipping Ukraine security forces, and this nonlethal equipment, according to the Defense Department.
In early March 2015, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich said that Washington had already deployed military instructors to Ukraine for a joint training mission.
On Tuesday, US Army Europe Commander Ben Hodges reportedly said that the training of three Ukrainian army battalions had been delayed in order to provide more time to implement the Minsk ceasefire agreements between the Kiev government forces and the independence supporters in Eastern Ukraine.