The US first started training Ukrainian forces after the 2014 US-backed coup in Kyiv that ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych. Brig. Gen. Joseph Hilbert, the head of the 7th Army Training Command in Germany, told reporters that the US invested $126 million to train more than 23,000 Ukrainian troops at the Yavoriv military base in western Ukraine since 2015.
In 2014, the US also sent CIA paramilitaries to train Ukrainians on the frontline of the Donbas war, a mission that was recently revealed by Yahoo News. Before Russia invaded on February 24, the US withdrew the CIA paramilitaries and National Guard troops that were training Ukrainian soldiers.
The US restarted its training of Ukrainian forces in recent weeks after sending howitzers to Ukraine for the first time. The training is taking place in Germany and in two other locations in Europe outside of Ukraine. Now, more than 220 Ukrainians have been trained on howitzers. Ukrainian soldiers are also being trained to use new Phoenix Ghost drones the US designed for Kyiv, radar systems, and armored vehicles.
Hilbert boasted of the US training relationship with Ukraine and said the “worst thing Russia did is give us eight years to prepare.” During those eight years, while the US was arming Kyiv, Moscow had been pushing Ukraine to fulfill the Minsk agreements, which if implemented, could have brought peace to the Donbas.