Written by Lucrezia Sala
On Wednesday, October 12, the 27 ambassadors of the EU Member States finally agreed upon the military training mission involving Ukrainian soldiers. The so-called “European Union Military Assistance Mission”, or EUMAM, which was pending since August, will allow the Member States to host training for 15.000 Ukrainian soldiers, 3.000 of whom will receive tactical combat training and specialised courses for engineers. More details will be decided during an EU Council meeting with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the EU members on October 17 in Luxembourg. Besides, the mission will be fully funded by the European Peace Facility fund, of which €2.5 billion has already been used to finance Ukraine’s acquisition of weaponry and military equipment from the Member States. Nonetheless, another €500 million will be earmarked for the EUMAM.
As Poland proposed to build a central training camp to train entire combat groups near the border with Ukraine, the Germans opposed it for time-sensitive and security-related reasons. First, it could take too much time to build such a military infrastructure, and Ukrainian soldiers do not have the luxury of patience in times of war. Second, there could be a high-level risk of espionage by Russian intelligence services, which have already monitored the training of Ukrainian militaries on the Wildflecken training ground of the German Bundeswehr. The Russians have created what is known as an “agent network” through European countries. In particular, Russian special services have gathered information in Germany about weapons to be delivered to Ukraine. As a consequence, to avoid further complicating the war in Ukraine, Poland will use EU funds to build a force headquarter, a small one, and each Member State will develop a central training camp. Henceforth, coordination and interoperability among the Member States are necessary conditions for the EUMAM to efficiently progress.
Moreover, Germany already trained Ukrainian soldiers through bilateral projects, – mainly instructing them about the use of weapons systems like the Panzerhaubitze2000 – but the country was initially sceptical of the mission as it feared a consequent military involvement of the Member States. However, it is now ready to offer its advanced teachings to Ukrainian medics, engineers, and specialists. Curiously, the only country in Europe that has started a large-scale military training program for Ukrainian recruits is the United Kingdom. The decision was taken by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who offered to train up to 10.000 Ukrainians every 120 days for President Volodymyr Zelensky. Upon reaching their agreement early this summer, other countries, including some non-EU nations, joined at the beginning of August, such as Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Lastly, at the time of writing, the second battalion of 10.000 Ukrainians has just finished its period of military reskilling on British soil and will return to Kyiv more prepared.
AFP. (2022, October 12). EU Agreement on Ukraine Military Training Mission. Kyiv Post. Retrieved from: https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/eu-agreement-on-ukraine-military-training-mission.html
Becker, M., & Gebauer, M. (2022, October 3). EU wants to train up to 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers. SPIEGEL. Retrieved from: https://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/krieg-in-der-ukraine-eu-will-bis-zu-15000-ukrainische-soldaten-ausbilden-a-74cbe381-06da-4357-b7fd-4f56f6743019