Belgium could offer naval or mine clearance training to Ukrainian soldiers, says minister

The defence ministers of the EU-27 agreed at an informal meeting in Prague on Tuesday to start preparatory work on an EU training plan for Ukrainian soldiers.

"It's not only about the war, but also about the way it's conducted, the training of soldiers," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters after the talks.

"There are many training initiatives, but the needs are huge. We need to ensure coherence in these efforts," he added.

"All Member States have clearly agreed on this and on launching the necessary work to define the parameters of an EU military assistance mission to Ukraine," Borrell said.

The ministers reached a "political agreement in principle", Belgian Defence minister Ludivine Dedonder told Belga.

Dedonder stressed that Belgium has a proven track record in training foreign armies - whether in a NATO and EU framework or on a bilateral basis, such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Defence could, for example, offer its services for landmine clearance training through the army's Service d'Enlèvement et de Destruction d'Engins Explosifs (SEDEE) or through the new Naval Academy (formerly the Belgian-Dutch Mine Warfare School, or EGUERMIN in Ostend, a NATO centre of excellence in this field).

The Academy has already hosted a small group of Ukrainian sailors, Dedonder confirmed.


Belgian Defence minister Ludivine Dedonder. © BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT

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