He would see the Ukrainian fight units with hundreds, if not thousands of soldiers, training together in Grafenwoehr, Germany, where the U.S. military trained Ukrainian forces in smaller numbers for years. Austin is keen to bolster Ukraine’s ability to maneuver on the battlefield with a more modern style of warfare that relies less on firing thousands of artillery rounds a day at Russian troops in what has become a war. of bloody and bloody wear.
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Austin is known to favor the vastly expanded US training program, as well as similar programs for tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers to be undertaken by Britain, European Union countries and others like Norway. Germany alone plans to train 5,000 troops by June under the EU initiative, at German military combat simulation centers and battalion command posts.
Since the start of the war, President Biden has said that the United States and NATO are not at war with Russia, but have a responsibility to help another democracy defend itself against unprovoked aggression. Moscow has dismissed those statements, accusing the United States and its allies of using Ukraine as a disposable proxy for their own purposes against Russia.
Russia has already stepped up its rhetoric in response to European training announcements. “Don’t say that the United States and NATO are not participating in this war,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters on Thursday. “You participate directly, including not only the supply of weapons, but also the training of personnel. … You train their military on your territory, on the territories of Britain, Germany, Italy and other countries.
The new training, requested by Ukraine, comes as the pace of war is expected to slow, but not stop, during Ukraine’s freezing winter months and as allies consider how best to take advantage of this time. Counter-offensives south of Kherson, a strategic city on the Black Sea that Russian troops abandoned last month, and in separatist strongholds to the east are expected to be difficult as the Russians take the opportunity to strengthen their defensive lines.
Ukraine was able to inflict battlefield casualties on Russian forces in many places, but with heavy casualties on both sides. Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, estimated last month that more than 100,000 Russian troops have been killed or injured since the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, and ‘probably’ an equivalent number of Ukrainian soldiers.
The Russians are expected to continue to outmatch the Ukrainian military in delivering tens of thousands of artillery rounds daily in addition to salvoes of missiles and other munitions, according to Western intelligence assessments. At the same time, Russian forces have been bolstered with the “mobilization” of thousands of additional troops whose effectiveness has so far been limited due to minimal training, low morale and logistical difficulties.
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Although the training of Ukrainian forces on specific weapons systems will continue, the Western offer is not endless. The aim of the new formation is to teach the Ukrainians tactics that will improve the effectiveness of the weaponry at their disposal, and to use on a larger scale the agility and adaptability they have demonstrated with small units. .
Many Ukrainian trainees are expected to be recruits, according to US and European officials, as the government in Kyiv continues to mobilize virtually all available resources.
It was unclear whether expanding US training would significantly increase the rising cost of aid to Ukraine, already contested by some, mostly Republican, lawmakers. While aid to Ukraine still enjoys broad bipartisan support, GOP lawmakers who will take the helm of the House next month have promised increased scrutiny.
Austin’s vision would resemble in some ways the training that US military units receive at their major training centers, such as the Army National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat. Center in Twentynine Palms, California. Prior to deployment, units spend weeks certifying they are ready to fight in combined arms warfare, where infantry, mechanized forces, artillery units and other troops coordinate to find, surround and destroy enemy units. A discussion of expanding US training for Ukrainian forces was reported earlier by CNN.
US Army training of Ukrainian forces began on a massive scale after Russia invaded and captured Crimea in 2014. But much of that training focused on special operations and resistance rather than on large-scale offensives against an entrenched and powerful enemy. Since last winter’s invasion, trainers have focused on teaching a small number of soldiers at a time how to perform specific tasks, such as launching and maintaining artillery howitzers supplied to them.
A Pentagon spokesman, Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said Thursday that the Department of Defense, alongside Western allies and partner nations, “constantly explores ways to support Ukraine through various security assistance efforts, including the training”. The department, he added, had no further announcements to make.
Loveday Morris in Berlin contributed to this report.