Ukraine Army Chief Ready for Possible French Military Trainers

(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine is preparing for a possible initial visit from French military instructors as the government asks NATO allies to help train Kyiv’s troops to the fight against the Russian invasion, according to commander-in-chief Oleksandr Syrskyi.

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The statement on Monday came after a phone call that the army chief and Ukraine’s Defense Minister Rustem Umerov held with French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu. Syrskyi praised France for its initiative to send instructors to train Ukrainian troops, without saying when they would arrive or for how long. Paris has given no public indication yet that such a visit was imminent.

“I’ve already signed the documents that will allow the first French instructors to visit our training centers soon and familiarize themselves with their infrastructure and staff,” Syrskyi said on Telegram.

Training troops inside Ukraine has been one of the options discussed since a conference that President Emmanuel Macron convened in Paris in February, according to a French defense ministry official. France continues to work with Ukraine to understand their exact needs, the official said.

With Russia advancing on the battlefield, Ukraine has pushed the US and other NATO allies to send instructors to train its depleted forces and to deliver more weapons and ammunition.

Macron sparked tensions with allies earlier this year when he said “nothing should be ruled out” when asked about sending Western troops to Ukraine.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, who was re-elected for a second term on Sunday, has said repeatedly that his country is prepared to send professional soldiers for training missions to Ukraine should Kyiv request it. Czech President Petr Pavel said in March that sending instructors would be possible, but ruled out combat troops.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are moving closer to sending instructors into Ukraine to train its troops.

--With assistance from Ania Nussbaum.

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