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The EU is moving toward training thousands of Ukrainian soldiers on its own soil

A Ukrainian serviceman checks the trenches dug by Russian soldiers in a retaken area in the Kherson region, Ukraine, on Oct. 12, 2022.
Leo Correa
/
AP
A Ukrainian serviceman checks the trenches dug by Russian soldiers in a retaken area in the Kherson region, Ukraine, on Oct. 12, 2022.

The European Union will train thousands of Ukrainian soldiers on its own soil starting as early as next month under a plan that is expected to be approved Monday by EU foreign ministers.

The EU has been debating for months on how to best aid Ukrainian forces as the war drags on. With Russia working to mobilize an additional 300,000 troops for the war, turning ordinary people into soldiers is crucial for Ukraine, which, despite recent gains, remains heavily outnumbered on the battlefield.

Poland, one of Ukraine's strongest supporters in the EU, has already offered to host training sessions for 12,000 Ukrainian troops. Germany will also train at least 3,000.

But some EU leaders are wary that training Ukrainian forces inside their own borders will further anger Moscow.

Final details need to be ironed out, including how to move the soldiers from Ukraine into EU territory.

The EU may coordinate its training with the United Kingdom, which has already put an estimated 6,000 Ukrainian civilians through basic training on British soil.

U.K.-based training missions have become especially important for Kyiv, given how dangerous training large numbers of people inside Ukraine has become. In March, for example, a Russian missile attack on a military training base close to Ukraine's western border near Poland killed at least 35 people.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joanna Kakissis is an international correspondent based in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she leads NPR's bureau and coverage of a conflict that has upended millions of lives, affected global energy and food supplies and pitted NATO against Russia.