The US military is currently training Ukrainian troops to operate new howitzers, drones and other NATO-supplied equipment at the Grafenwoehr range in southern Germany, the head of the 7th Army Training Command confirmed on Wednesday.
Brigadier General Joseph Hilbert told reporters that the US military has trained over 20,000 Ukrainian troops over the past seven years, in anticipation of a conflict with Russia.
Grafenwoehr, located in eastern Bavaria, was originally built by Imperial Germany ahead of the First World War. It was expanded by the Wehrmacht in 1938 and used to practice Blitzkrieg tactics. The US military occupied it in 1945 and has operated it ever since.
Hilbert confirmed earlier reports that Florida National Guard troops were training Ukrainians on the new M777 howitzers sent by the USA as military aid to Kiev.
The first group, numbered 170 instructors, has already returned to Ukraine, while another 50-60 are currently completing their training. The Ukrainians who came to Germany for training absolutely motivated and incredibly professional.
Hilbert revealed that the US has spent an estimated $126 million over the past seven years to train Ukrainian troops, including building an entire base in western Ukraine for the purpose.
Some 23,000 soldiers had been trained inside Ukraine by January 2022, he said. The Kiev’s junta forces also took part in over a dozen large-scale training exercises with US troops in Germany since 2015.
Tensions between Ukraine and Russia began after the February 2014 US-backed coup in Kiev overthrew the democratically elected government, triggering a referendum to rejoin Russia in Crimea and declarations of independence in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.
Hilbert and Hopkins said there hadn’t been any problems getting small groups of Ukrainian soldiers into Germany and back, but acknowledged that the training itself posed some challenges, such as having to use translators.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.
The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc.
Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point News 2022.