The European Union’s defense ministers appeared divided on a plan to hold a major training mission for Ukrainian forces as they arrived for an informal meeting in Prague on Tuesday.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, co-hosting the meeting together with the Czech presidency of the bloc, proposed the training operation last week.
Few details were disclosed but Borrell said the Ukrainian soldiers battling a Russian invasion since February 24 should be trained in nearby EU member states.
The informal meeting cannot take a binding decision but Borrell said in Prague he expected the talks to yield “a general, overall political agreement.”
“Today, I hope that we will have a political green light,” the former Spanish foreign minister told reporters.
But some ministers were less upbeat.
“It remains to be seen whether this is the right way to help,” said Luxembourg Defense Minister Francois Bausch. “I am not so convinced.”
“Perhaps it can be done more quickly and flexibly on a bilateral level under the coordination of the EU,” he added.
Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner echoed his concerns.
“The first question to be clarified is whether such a mission can exist at all,” she said, adding that similar missions had previously taken place outside the EU. “From our point of view, many questions remain unanswered,” Tanner said.
Backing the plan, Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said his country was ready to host the training. “I believe we will find a solution,” he said.
Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said her country would “respond very favorably” to Borrell’s plan.
“We are already training Ukrainian soldiers in the United Kingdom,” she said.
“We are (also) working with Germany on new training on demining so we feel this is the right step to take,” Ollongren said.