The nations backing Ukraine this week committed to a broad effort to rebuild the country, and President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday night that he was working with the United Nations to send international observers to bear witness to the destruction.
Since 2014, when the Kremlin fomented a separatist war in eastern Ukraine — a region that Moscow claimed this year to annex — Ukraine has sought U.N. involvement in the conflict, but to little effect. Russia, with a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, has veto power over any action there.
Increasing its support to Ukraine, the Biden administration is expected to announce soon that it will provide the country with a Patriot missile battery, which would be the most sophisticated weapon the United States has yet provided. Unlike other air defense missile systems, the Patriot can shoot down not only aircraft and cruise missiles, but also much faster ballistic missiles.
The Kremlin, playing to Western concerns about a direct confrontation with Russia, has warned that sending Patriots to Ukraine would escalate tensions; it has said similar things about HIMARS and other weapons. General Ryder, noting that the Patriot is a defensive system, dismissed such talk.
“It’s important to remember that Russia is the aggressor here, and when it comes to escalation, they could de-escalate today by withdrawing their forces,” he said.
The new training regimen is set to take place at a U.S. Army base in Grafenwoehr, Germany, where the Pentagon conducts its own combined arms training. The United States and its allies have also conducted some training of Ukrainian troops there.
From 2015 to early this year, U.S. instructors trained more than 27,000 Ukrainian soldiers at the Yavoriv Combat Training Center in western Ukraine, near the city of Lviv, Pentagon officials said. But the United States pulled its 150 instructors out of Ukraine shortly before the war began. Ukraine later began sending troops to bases abroad for training, particularly in Britain, Germany and Poland.