A senior Pentagon official told Reuters on Monday that the US plans to start training Ukrainians on how to use howitzers in the coming days. The official said that the training would take place outside of Ukraine.
The US is giving Ukraine howitzers for the first time as part of a new $800 million weapons package that was announced last week. When announcing the new aid, the Pentagon said the Ukrainians would need training on the howitzers and on advanced radar systems that are also part of the package.
So far, the US has sent four flights to deliver the new weapons. Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the US has pledged about $2.6 billion in military aid for Ukraine and has delivered the arms rapidly via Eastern European NATO countries that border Ukraine.
The Pentagon official who spoke with Reuters did not elaborate on where the training will take place outside of Ukraine, but it’s likely it will be in an Eastern European country. Earlier this month, Lithuania announced a plan to start training Ukrainian forces on its territory.
On Friday, The Times reported British Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers are inside Ukraine training Ukrainian forces on anti-tank weapons that have been provided by London. The SAS deployment is the first known NATO troop presence in Ukraine since Russia invaded and risks provoking Moscow.
Last week, in a diplomatic letter to the State Department, Russia formally warned the US and NATO to stop arming Ukraine. Russian officials have also warned they would target Western arms shipments entering Ukraine. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Russian airstrikes destroyed a large number of foreign-made weapons stored at a Ukrainian military logistics center near Lviv on Monday.