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US 'liaising' with Ukrainian forces in Poland: Pentagon

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A US soldier and military equipment are seen at Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport ahead of US President Joe Biden's planned arrival in Poland amid Russia's offensive against Ukraine, near Rzeszow, Poland, on March 25, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

The US military says American troops in Poland are "liaising" with Ukrainian forces as they hand over weapons to them to fight back against Russian forces as Moscow's military campaign in the former Soviet state continues, stressing that they are not training "in the classic sense."

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby made the remarks at a press briefing on Tuesday, a day after US President Joe Biden said he had been talking to US troops who were helping "train" Ukrainian forces in Poland while in the country last week.

"It's not training in the classic sense that many people think of training. I would just say it's liaising," Kirby said, without providing details on what exactly the interactions entail.

Kirby added that additional aircraft, including 10 F-18 jets, and more than 200 personnel would be headed to eastern Europe, including Lithuania.

Speaking to media persons at the White House on Monday, Biden seemed to suggest that the American troops are actively training Ukrainian forces to fight Russians, a stunning revelation made by the top US official for the first time.

The US president was responding to a journalist’s question about comments he made during his recent visit to Poland, in which he implied that US forces would be going to Ukraine.

“We were talking about helping train the troops in — that are — the Ukrainian troops that are in Poland,” he said.

The remarks were construed to mean that American troops were training Ukrainian troops in Poland, as the armed conflict between Ukraine and Moscow rages on.

Biden’s remarks came days after the US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan denied that Americans were “currently” training Ukrainians.

The latest development comes as Russia has said it would “radically” reduce military activity around the Ukrainian capital of Kiev and the northern city of Chernihiv.

Kirby further said Moscow's stated plan of a military scaleback did not mean that the threat to Kiev was over, adding that the troops moving away from the capital city would likely be used in other parts of Ukraine.

He also claimed that Russia "has failed in its objective of capturing Kiev" and "subjugating Ukraine."

This is while Russia has declared that it has secured the main objectives it sought in the first stage of its “special military operation” against Ukraine and is now moving on its focus on the liberation of the Donbass region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" in Ukraine on February 24. The conflict has provoked a unanimous response from Western countries, which have imposed a long list of sanctions on Moscow.

Russia says it will halt the military operation instantly if Kiev meets Moscow’s list of demands, including ruling out Ukraine’s membership in NATO.

The military conflict has so far displaced more than 3.5 million people in what the United Nations has described as the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. 

US, EU to hold ‘high-level dialogue on Russia’

Meanwhile, diplomats from the United States and the European Union are set to hold a “high-level dialogue on Russia” in Washington, DC, on Wednesday.

“This inaugural session will focus on US and EU strategic objectives and policy coordination aimed at ending the Kremlin’s war of choice in Ukraine,” an unnamed State Department spokesperson told Al Jazeera.

The talks come a week after Biden held meetings with top European officials in Belgium and Poland amid Washington's efforts to ramp up support against Russia. US Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland will lead the US delegation, the State Department said.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has already said the United States is looking to prolong the military conflict in Ukraine and hindering what he described as “tough” peace talks between Moscow and Kiev.


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