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Nuland reveals fear about NATO training bases in Ukraine

The presence of Western instructors would “directly implicate” the US-led bloc, the retired diplomat has said

The US-led military bloc provides a “huge amount” of training to Kiev’s forces in the territory of several NATO states, but officially sending Western instructors into the country would be too risky, according to Victoria Nuland, the former US State Department official in charge of Ukraine.

Facing severe troop shortages, the government in Kiev allegedly asked the US and NATO to help train some 150,000 new recruits inside Ukraine, so they could be sent to the front faster, the New York Times reported last week. In an interview with ABC on Sunday, Victoria Nuland acknowledged that amid Russia’s renewed offensive it is getting increasingly hard for Ukrainian troops to “come off the front” to train abroad – but warned against sending Western instructors in.

“I worry that NATO training bases inside Ukraine will become a target for Vladimir Putin. And it does directly implicate NATO on the ground, which could… escalate the war in a different direction and cause Putin to think that NATO territory might be fair game for him,” Nuland said.

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NATO members ‘considering’ sending troops to Ukraine – NYT

The White House has repeatedly insisted that it will not put American troops – including instructors – on the ground in Ukraine. The retired US diplomat has argued that “it still makes most sense to do most of the training outside of Ukraine but to give advice inside Ukraine.”

The US-led military bloc has been training Ukrainian soldiers on the territory of member states including the UK, Germany and Poland, teaching them how to use Western-donated weapons. Western officials have previously acknowledged the presence of some military personnel in Ukraine since the outbreak of the conflict in 2022, but did not publicly confirm that they were training local forces.

Military personnel from some NATO member states are already training Ukrainian soldiers inside the country, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas claimed on Monday. However, she insisted this will not lead to a direct confrontation with Russia because the personnel are doing it “at their own risk.”

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NATO countries already training troops in Ukraine – Estonian PM

French President Emmanuel Macron first raised the issue of sending NATO troops to Ukraine back in February, as an idea that should not be ruled out. Estonia and Lithuania have since expressed support for either sending instructors or support troops, to free up Ukrainian soldiers for combat duty. 

In early May, the Russian Defense Ministry estimated that Ukrainian military losses had surpassed 111,000 this year alone. Now Kiev intends to mobilize hundreds of thousands of additional troops under a new law that allows for a heavy crackdown on draft avoidance.

Just over the past six weeks, Russian forces have taken more territory than Ukraine managed to capture in six months of its failed counter-offensive last year, the Washington Post admitted last week, citing numbers from the Institute for the Study of War, a DC-based think tank run by Kimberly Kagan – Victoria Nuland’s sister-in-law.

 

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