US paratroopers to train Ukrainian national guard

Nearly 300 US paratroopers will begin training Ukrainian national guard soldiers next month, the Pentagon said Thursday.

AFP| Last Updated: Mar 20, 2015, 01:43 AM IST

Washington: Nearly 300 US paratroopers will begin training Ukrainian national guard soldiers next month, the Pentagon said Thursday.

The 290 paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, dubbed Sky Soldiers, will train the Ukrainian troops in the western town of Yavoriv.

Colonel Steven Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said the training, originally set for mid-March, is now due to take place in late April.

The program underwent "some review" so it got off to a late start, he explained.

The American paratroopers will train six Ukrainian national guard companies, "with a focus on internal security and territorial defense," said Eileen Lainez, a Defense Department spokeswoman.

"While we continue to believe that there is no military resolution to this crisis, Ukraine has the right to defend itself."

The United States provides some military aid to Ukraine, though it stops short of delivering the lethal weapons asked for by Kiev.

The training assistance "is part of our ongoing efforts to help sustain Ukraine`s defense and internal security operations," Lainez explained.

"The program is also designed to strengthen Ukraine`s defense capability and capacity and assist in its defense reform."

Washington announced last week it would deliver more than $75 million worth of armored and unarmored Humvees, unarmed Raven drones, counter-mortar radars, night vision devices and other "non-lethal defensive" equipment.

Sporadic fighting is ongoing in pro-Russian, separatist-held eastern Ukraine, despite a ceasefire agreement signed last month.