The Pentagon on Tuesday tried to downplay comments made by President Biden concerning US troops training Ukrainian forces in Poland.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that the US troops in Poland were only “liaising” with Ukrainian forces as they handed them weapons. “It’s not training in the classic sense that many people think of training. I would just say it’s liaising,” Kirby said.
Kirby didn’t share any more details about the meetings, and it’s not clear if the difference between “liaising” and “training” is significant at all. Either way, the US is handing weapons to Ukraine in Poland that are intended to be used to kill Russians, which is a serious provocation against Moscow.
The US and NATO have been working to flood Ukraine with weapons since Russia invaded on February 24. Ukraine only recently started receiving shoulder-fired Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, so it’s possible they want training on the weapons, which could be done in Poland.
After the US-backed ousting of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014, the US and NATO began training Ukrainian forces, both openly and in secret. A recent report from Yahoo News revealed that the CIA had been training Ukrainian troops on the frontlines of the Donbas war from 2014 until the Biden administration pulled them out this past February. The US also withdrew National Guard soldiers that were stationed in Ukraine before Russia’s invasion.
Before Biden made his comments on Monday, it wasn’t clear if the US was still training Ukraine’s forces. He made the revelation while trying to explain a recent gaffe, where he suggested US troops in Poland would be entering Ukraine. Amid the current crisis, the administration has had to walk back or clarify many comments made by the president.