Last week, Ukraine's Defense Ministry published photos from the latest training exercises in Lviv region, where Ukrainian servicemen are being trained up to NATO standards by instructors from the United States, Canada, Poland and Lithuania.
However, as one observant Ukrainian soldier pointed out, all the pictures actually served to prove was that the NATO 'experts' have no clue about how to handle the weapons used by the Ukrainian military.
As a result, following the instructional course conducted with the NATO instructors' help, Ukrainian machine gunners don't even know how to properly load their heavy machineguns' ammunition belts, says volunteer fighter Roman Donik.
"Polish specialists who do not have experience with the DShK machinegun are teaching recruits to load the belt through the open cover of the belt drive, not through it, which is how it should be," Donik complained.
Pointing out that the instructors are even teaching trainees to load the wrong kinds of rounds into the guns, Donik suggested that it was "simply frightening to consider what they're actually teaching them." It's thanks to this kind of 'training' that Ukrainian equipment quickly turns into junk, he added.
NATO's instructors themselves naturally have their own concerns with Ukraine's army. Two years ago, British military officials designated to train their Ukrainian counterparts complained to The Telegraph that the army was 'corrupted, impoverished and unprofessional.' That characterization has continued to haunt the military ever since.
And little seems to have changed in the over two years of NATO training missions. This week, President Poroshenko asked NATO specialists to help deal with the fallout of the massive explosions and fires at an ammunition depot in Balakleya, Kharkiv region, where over 130,000 tons of ammunition went up in smoke, prompting the evacuation of over 20,000 people from the surrounding area. The government immediately blamed Russia for the incident, although many observers suggest incompetence was the more likely culprit.
Still, problems or not, Kiev has not given up on its military ambitions vis-à-vis NATO and the United States. Last week, Kiev appealed to the US to be granted the status of a major non-NATO ally. The government has also reiterated its requests for US lethal military aid.