EU Defence Ministers ponder military training programme for Ukraine

European Union (EU) Defence Ministers are meeting in the Czech capital of Prague on Tuesday to hold talks focused on setting up a military training programme for Ukrainian soldiers.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who is set to chair the talks at the informal meeting, recently backed the idea to train the Ukrainian military as “reasonable”, reports dpa news agency.

Six months ago, in the early stages of the Russian invasion, EU Foreign Ministers first considered the idea of providing training for Ukrainian forces amid broader discussions on military aid.

With the Czech Republic, a strong supporter of Ukraine, holding the rotating six-month EU presidency that directs the bloc’s policy agenda, and the situation on the ground totally changed, the proposal is now firmly back on the agenda.

Meanwhile, EU Foreign Ministers are set to politically back the suspension of a 2007 visa facilitation agreement with Russia over the Ukraine war, diplomatic sources told dpa.

The suspension of the EU-Russia visa agreement could be the first step towards wider travel restrictions on Russian nationals, an EU diplomat with knowledge of the talks said.

The Czech Republic, Finland and Estonia, after imposing their own visa restrictions, have pushed for an EU-wide decision, but Germany and France have urged caution.

A joint German and French discussion item, seen by dpa, cautions against far-reaching visa restrictions at the risk of triggering “unintended rallying-around-the-flag effects” in Russia.

The meeting in Prague is in the Gymnich format, but no legal decision is possible as the talks are taking place informally.

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