Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov accused the U.S. of “direct” involvement in the Ukraine war amid reports of plans to expand training for Ukrainian troops, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
The Pentagon has worked on plans to grow U.S. military training for thousands of Ukrainian troops in Germany in recent months, the Post reported, citing defense officials familiar with the developments. Some European Union countries and the U.K. have announced similar plans, prompting an escalation in rhetoric from the Kremlin likening the West’s continuing military support for Ukraine to direct participation in the war.
“You are directly participating, including not only with the supply of weapons, but also with the training of personnel. … You are training their military on your territory, on the territories of Britain, Germany, Italy and other countries,” Lavrov said, according to the Post.
The U.S. has deployed training regiments to Germany for years, providing training support for tens or hundreds of Ukrainian special operations troops at a time, according to the Pentagon. The latest plans could expand the number of recipients to the thousands at Ukraine’s request and broaden the scope of training, the Post reported.
“We have had a growing security cooperation relationship with Ukraine going back to 2014 and will continue to work with our Allies and partners to look at ways that we can best support Ukraine to defend itself against Russia,” a State Department spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Europe’s plans, unveiled in October, mirror those of the U.S. and involve plans to train up to 15,000 Ukrainian troops in both basic warfighting tactics and advanced maneuvers, according to The Associated Press. Germany has pledged to train 5,000 Ukrainian fighters by June, the Post reported.
Defense officials intend the training to increase Ukraine’s efficiency as the war is expected to continue through winter, albeit at a slower pace, the Post reported. The plans will emphasize improving the agility and adaptability of Ukraine’s military and providing instructions on new tactics that will help Ukraine to more effectively utilize the equipment they already possess.
It is not clear whether the training will place an additional cost burden on the Pentagon, the Post reported.
Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder acknowledged reports of an upgraded training initiative at a briefing Thursday but said the DOD did not have any new announcements to make.
Russia has previously accused the West for exploiting Ukraine as a proxy to weaken Russia, although Western leaders allege that Russia is the initial aggressor and affirm a duty to support a European democracy, according to the Post.
President Joe Biden promised in May that “so long as the United States or our allies are not attacked, we will not be directly engaged in this conflict, either by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine or by attacking Russian forces.”
The DOD and White House did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.
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