Top US military official indicates NATO trainers could eventually be sent to Ukraine

May 18, 2024 by No Comments

Gen. Charles Brown, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says NATO military trainers will eventually be sent to Ukraine according to a report in the New York Times. Ukraine is battling to hold the line against Russian offensives in areas like the northeastern city of Kharkiv as well as in the east and south – and just weeks after the U.S. agreed to send an extra $3 billion in military aid. Ukrainian officials have asked their U.S. and NATO counterparts to help train 150,000 new recruits closer to the front line for faster deployment, the New York Times reports. Brown told reporters on Thursday that a decision to deploy trainers was gradually getting closer. “We’ll get there eventually, over time,” he told reporters, according to the New York Times.

Manpower has long been an issue for Kyiv’s military as it fights a much larger and better-equipped opponent. The problem has grown more acute in recent months, prompting authorities to introduce stricter measures for draft evaders, while the draft mobilization age has been lowered from 27 to 25, with the upper limit being 60. The new law offers parole to convicts who sign a contract to join the army, a move that some officials have said could generate a maximum of 20,000 soldiers for the Ukrainian war effort. Those convicted of the most serious crimes, such as the premeditated murder of two or more people, rape and crimes against national security, would still not be allowed to enlist. But the new recruits need to be trained and Ukraine is calling on the West for help.

However, the move to deploy trainers could draw the U.S. and Europe more directly into Russia’s war with Ukraine. U.S. leaders have said they will not put U.S. troops on the ground in Ukraine and have urged NATO allies not to do so either. Brown said that such a move now would put NATO trainers at risk and would most likely mean deciding whether to use precious air defenses to protect the trainers — instead of critical Ukrainian infrastructure near the battlefield, the New York Times reports. An attack on trainers could force the U.S. to honor its NATO obligations under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, thereby dragging it into war.

It is unclear which countries are considering sending military trainers and how many would need to be deployed and for how long. Digital reached out to the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for further comment but did not immediately receive a response. In February, Zelenskyy said he had not ruled out the possibility of European Union member states sending troops into Ukraine to stave off Russia’s invasion. The latest Russian offensive began last week in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, marking the most significant border incursion since the full-scale invasion began in 2022 and forcing thousands to flee their homes. In recent weeks, Moscow’s forces have also sought to build on gains in the eastern region of Donetsk. Taken together, the developments mean the war has entered a critical stage for Ukraine’s depleted army. Meanwhile, overnight, Ukraine launched its largest-ever kamikaze drone attack on Russia while Putin visited China, killing two people and causing an oil refinery fire in the Black Sea, according to officials. Reuters and AP reported.