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Updated: France to send instructors to Ukraine to train Ukrainian soldiers, Syrskyi says

by Kateryna Denisova May 27, 2024 6:53 PM 2 min read
Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces Oleksandr Syrskyi. (Syrskyi/Telegram)
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Editor's note: This story was updated with comments from France's Defense Ministry and Ukraine's Defense Ministry.

France is planning to send instructors to Ukraine to train the military, Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces Oleksandr Syrskyi said on May 27 after a video meeting with French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu.

The announcement comes after reports that some NATO member states are discussing the possibility of sending military instructors or contractors to Ukraine to train troops and assist with equipment repairs.

Kyiv has asked the U.S. and other NATO countries to help train 150,000 soldiers closer to the front lines, according to the New York Times.

Syrskyi said he had already signed documents "that will allow the first French instructors to visit our training centers soon and see infrastructure and staff."

"I believe that France's determination will encourage other partners to join this ambitious project," the general said, without disclosing further details.

France's Defense Ministry told Reuters that training in Ukraine "is one of the projects discussed since the conference on support for Ukraine" convened by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris in February.

"Like all the projects discussed at that time, this track continues to be the subject of work with the Ukrainians, in particular to understand their exact needs," the ministry said.

Ukraine's Defense Ministry later confirmed that discussions between Kyiv, Paris and other countries about foreign instructors to train Ukrainian soldiers in Ukraine are still ongoing.

"The Defense Ministry, together with the General Staff, began internal work on relevant documents on this issue in order to avoid wasting time on coordinating bureaucratic issues once a decision is made," the statement read.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said in late May that "there are countries who are training soldiers on the ground already," without naming any specific countries or provide any further details on their purported operations in Ukraine.

The debate on the potential presence of NATO troops in Ukraine was sparked by comments made by Macron in February, in which he considered the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine if requested.

The U.S. and multiple European allies, as well as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, have distanced themselves from the French president's statement. However, several countries have not ruled out sending troops for non-combat missions, such as training the Ukrainian military.

Macron has nonetheless stood by his suggestion, saying again in May that he would consider sending French troops to Ukraine in the case of a Russian breakthrough or a Ukrainian request.

Estonian defense minister: No new development on idea to send troops to Ukraine
The Estonian government has held no specific discussions on sending the country’s troops to Ukraine, Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said on May 14, according to public broadcaster ERR.
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