27th Sep 2023

Borrell wants 'powerful training' mission for Ukraine army

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The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell is seeking a "powerful training and organisation mission" to help the Ukrainian army.

The proposal announced Monday (22 August) in Madrid is set to discussed among EU defence ministers in Prague next week.

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"I don't quite understand why we send training missions to the Mozambican army and not to the Ukrainian army," said Borrell.

He said the EU already has 17 such missions around the world and in places like Chad, Niger and until recently, Mali.

Borrell said any such training mission would not take place in Ukrainian territory, but rather in neighbouring countries.

Ukrainian soldiers are, for instance, already being trained in the Czech Republic, France, Poland and the United Kingdom.

Denmark had also announced plans earlier this month to help train Ukrainian soldiers in the UK.

But Borrell said the EU-led mission was needed because Europe is facing "a large-scale war" involving hundreds of thousands of soldiers.

"Therefore, any mission has to be equal to the conflict. This is not a 'little war', as someone has said," he said.

Member states will still have to approve the idea.

A similar EU proposal was floated last year to train Ukrainian officers in light of the tensions with Russia and its military buildup along the borders with Ukraine, according to German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

That proposal was drafted by the EU defence ministers, reported the paper at the time.

The EU has so far contributed some €2.5bn for Ukraine's military needs through its so-called European Peace Facility.

The facility was set up as an off-budget item with a €5.7bn ceiling.

It was also created because EU rules prevent countries from using its seven-year budget for military operations.

EU plans to jointly invest in defence capabilities

EU countries need to refill stockpiles after several member states supplied weapons to Ukraine in its fight with Russia, and to phase out existing Soviet-era weapons systems, and reinforce air defence.

EU farm chief backs extending Ukraine grain ban and subsidies

EU agriculture commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski has backed extending the temporary ban on Ukrainian grain imports in five frontline countries until the end of 2023 — and proposed providing subsidies for Ukrainian grain exporters.

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