The Defense Ministers of the Twenty-seven agreed Tuesday, during an informal meeting in Prague, to start preparatory work on a plan for the training of Ukrainian soldiers by the EU.
According to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, “it’s not just about war, it’s also about how it is fought, about training soldiers.”
“There are many training initiatives, but the needs are enormous. We must ensure the coherence of these efforts” , he added. ” All Member States clearly agreed on this point and in starting the necessary work to define the parameters of an EU military assistance mission to Ukraine,” said Borrell.
The ministers found a “political agreement in principle“, explained the Belgian Minister of Defense, Ludivine Dedonder, to the Belgian agency. However, the ministers have not yet instructed the European military authorities to prepare the concrete launch of this mission, calling for additional preparatory work, including legal analysis, namely on the location of training to be given to Ukrainian soldiers, she added. she clarified.
This training, like what the European Union is doing in Mali, in the Central African Republic and Mozambique, would, however, take place in European countries – and not in Ukraine. The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who co-hosted the meeting with the EU’s Czech Presidency, offered the training last week. He confirmed that Ukrainian soldiers fighting the Russian invasion since February 24 can be trained in EU member states. “Clearly we need to be fast and ambitious,” Borrell said.
In favor of the project, the Slovak minister, Jaroslav Nad, indicated that his country is ready to receive the training. Dutch Minister Kajsa Ollongren stressed that her country “would respond very favorably” to Borrell’s plan. “We are already training Ukrainian soldiers in the UK”, she pointed. “We are (also) working with Germany on new demining training, so we think this is a good step forward,” said Ollongren.
Mrs. Dedonder, in turn, underlined that Belgium has a recognized experience in terms of training foreign armies – whether within NATO and the EU or on bilateral bases, such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The defense could thus, she said, offer its services for landmine clearance training., through the Army’s Explosive Device Removal and Destruction Service (SEDEE) or through the new Naval Academy (formerly the Belgian-Dutch Mine Warfare School, or EGUERMIN in Ostend, a NATO center of excellence in this area). It has already received a small group of Ukrainian sailors, confirmed Dedonder.