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Austria Won't Train Ukrainian Troops

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Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said his country supports the new EU mission but is keeping its neutral status

Austria does not plan to take part in an EU military training mission for Ukrainian troops, the country’s Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said on Monday. His remarks came as the bloc’s Foreign Council agreed to drill about 15,000 Ukrainian troops over two years and to allocate an additional €500 million for arms supplies to Kiev. 

“We support this mission, we will also vote for it, but participation is currently not planned,” Schallenberg said upon his arrival to the summit in Luxembourg. 

According to the European Commission, a Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine (EUMAM Ukraine) “will provide individual, collective and specialized training to Ukraine’s Armed Forces, including to their Territorial Defense Forces.” The Brussels-based project under the command of a French naval officer, Vice Admiral Herve Blejean, has a budget of nearly €107 million.

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Schallenberg hasn’t ruled out that in the future Vienna might reconsider its plans regarding the EUMAM and said that it would closely follow all developments. 

Speaking about arms supply for Ukraine, the top diplomat explained that Austria’s neutral status obliges it to “constructively abstain” from supporting military funding. Under EU rules, this means that a state can let others take a unanimous decision without voting itself. 

Meanwhile, according to Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, his country did not vote for the establishment of the EUMAM. 

“We do not participate in this mission. Obviously, we do not send trainers, and we do not contribute financial resources to its operating costs,” Szijjarto explained at the press conference following the ministerial meeting. 

During the summit, Szijjarto said he had made it clear that his support this time of a €500-million tranche for Kiev does not mean that he will support it next time. He also offered the reminder that the European Peace Framework – a mechanism created to enhance the EU’s ability to act as a global security provider – is supposed to help not only Ukraine but also other countries. 

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, welcomed Monday’s decisions by the foreign ministers, claiming that they demonstrate the bloc’s determination to support Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s latest “indiscriminate” attacks.

Moscow has consistently warned Western countries against providing military support to Kiev, with numerous Russian officials arguing that such assistance would only prolong the conflict and lead to unnecessary casualties.

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