US special operations forces are continuing a mission to train troops in Ukraine amid heightened tensions with Russia, Stars and Stripes reported on Wednesday.
An undisclosed number of US special operators has been training Ukrainian forces inside Ukraine for several years under a mission led by US Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR).
"The bottom line is that our training mission in Ukraine is ongoing," said Lt. Col. Juan Martinez, a spokesman for SOCEUR. "We continue to view our mission in Ukraine as part of an ongoing effort in enhancing Special Operations Forces capabilities as a keystone for regional stability."
There is a renewed focus on the presence of US military personnel in Ukraine as the White House is claiming Russia is preparing to invade the country. Besides the special operations, there are also about 100 US National Guard troops in Ukraine.
US training and support for Ukraine’s military is a major point of tensions between the US and Russia, and the cooperation goes far beyond the special operators’ mission. Since the 2014 US-backed coup in Kyiv, the US has provided about $2.5 billion in military aid to Ukraine.
"The Stuttgart-based SOCEUR has quietly operated out of a training center outside of Kyiv for the past several years," Stars and Stripes notes. "The mission’s focus is assisting Ukrainian forces to defend more effectively against Russian aggression."
Last week, Yahoo News reported that the CIA has been training Ukrainian paramilitaries at a base inside the United States since 2015. The New York Times reported that the Biden administration is considering backing an insurgency in Ukraine if Russia invades.