On Sunday, Lithuanian officials announced a plan to train Ukrainian forces to use new weaponry the US and its allies are sending to Ukraine. The announcement came as US Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville was in Lithuania for talks.
“To achieve maximum effect, we will soon organize military training for Ukrainian troops here in Lithuania,” Lt. Gen. Valdemaras Rupsys, Lithuania’s defense chief, told reporters. He said the mission will be focused on training Ukrainian military instructors, who could then train forces inside Ukraine.
According to Stars and Stripes, there are currently no plans for US troops to join the Lithuanian training of Ukrainians. “We can’t speculate on whether or not that could change in the future,” US Army Europe and Africa said in a statement.
McConville was in Lithuania to discuss the future of the US military presence in the country, which is expected to expand, although no final decisions have been made. Last week, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said he wants US allies in Eastern Europe to build new permanent bases that US troops can rotate through.
Lithuania’s announcement comes after President Biden said US troops in Poland would be training Ukrainian forces. His comments were later contradicted by US military officials who downplayed the idea that the US is training Ukrainians in Eastern Europe. The Pentagon said that the US troops in Poland were only “liaising” with Ukrainian forces as they handed them weapons.
The Pentagon said Sunday that the US had been training a small number of Ukrainian forces inside the US that were in the country before Russia invaded on February 24 and are now returning to Ukraine. The Ukrainians received patrol craft training at the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that when the patrol craft training concluded at the end of March, the Ukrainian soldiers received some training on weapons the US has provided Ukraine, including armed Switchblade drones. The US first announced it was giving Ukraine Switchblades as part of an $800 million weapons package that President Biden pledged on March 16.