Europe

US will start training Ukrainian troops on Abrams tanks next month

U.S. Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin miscalculated Ukraine’s determination and ability to defend itself.

US will start training Ukrainian troops on Abrams tanks next month
Matthias Schrader / AP
SMS

In the coming weeks, the U.S. will train Ukrainian troops on how to use Abrams tanks, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Friday.

The training is expected to take place in Germany, where the U.S. and other allies of Ukraine are currently meeting for a report on what Ukraine needs to turn back Russian forces.

"I’m confident this equipment — and the training that accompanied it — will put Ukraine’s forces in a position to continue to succeed on the battlefield," said Austin while speaking to reporters at the meeting.

According to officials, 31 of the tanks will arrive in Germany at the end of May, and 250 Ukrainian troops will then be trained over a 10-week period. Other countries have also agreed to send tanks to Ukraine.

While in Germany, Austin said that Russian President Vladimir Putin miscalculated Ukraine’s determination and ability to defend itself.

"We reject Putin's grand vision of a world where tyrants get to assault their peaceful neighbors and try to impose self-declared spheres of influence at gunpoint," said Austin.

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Currently, there are 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers training in Germany; 8,800 have completed training and returned to Ukraine; and 65 have been trained on Patriot missile systems. 

Austin also took the time to reassure and ease any doubts between the U.S. and its allies over the sensitive Pentagon documents that were leaked online.

He addressed the issue in his opening statement, saying he takes the leak seriously, and praised partner countries for their "commitment to reject efforts to divide us."

"We will continue to work closely and respectfully with our deeply valued allies and partners," said Austin.

As for Ukraine’s NATO status, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated that Ukraine will join the organization in the future.

Stoltenberg said other NATO members have approved adding Ukraine, and the importance goes far beyond the current Russian invasion.

"What we do know is that when the war ends, we need to ensure that history doesn't repeat itself, that Russia is not able to continue to attack and to wage war again against Ukraine, and to continue to chip away at European security," Stoltenberg said Friday.