If Ukraine can’t get America to send troops to help it fight Russian-backed rebels, at least can it make its soldiers more like America’s. That, at least, is Kiev’s reasoning as it advocates expanding the U.S. training program for its national guardsmen currently in place outside of Lviv in western Ukraine. The Wall Street Journal has more:
Ukrainian military officials said Wednesday they want to bring their conventional army troops and special-operations forces to the training center to run through the course taught by U.S. soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Italy.
The Ukrainians have selected mechanized and airborne units that would be part of an expanded training program.
U.S. officials have also begun planning for a potential expansion of the training, lining up funding and beginning planning for the expansion. But officials said a final decision on increasing the training is up to the White House. White House officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
If it pans out, the training program would represent Washington’s biggest and most concrete act of support for Ukraine in the ongoing fighting against the separatist-Russian hybrid forces causing trouble in the east. As we’ve noted, while rhetorical support has been strong among the U.S. and its allies, Washington and the EU haven’t gone much further than mere gestures. For example, after an emotional appeal from President Petro Poroshenko to the U.S. Congress kicked off a debate over whether to send lethal aide to Ukraine, Congress voted in favor of allowing the President to arm Kiev. Yet as of now, the White House has chosen not to. And the current national guard training program, while a small help, is very close to the least we can do. Whether anything more comes of this most recent request remains to be seen.