US troops in Poland have been providing Ukrainians with some instruction on how to use weapons and equipment that the West has been shipping into Ukraine, sources familiar with the matter tell CNN, as part of the United States' efforts to help Ukrainian forces repel Russian attacks.
US President Joe Biden said on Monday that those American forces have been “helping train the Ukrainian troops” in Poland. The troops have been deployed there to help bolster NATO’s eastern flank during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
While in Poland last week, Biden heard directly from the troops about how they were providing the tactical weapons training to the Ukrainians there, the sources said.
"We were talking about helping train the Ukrainian troops that are in Poland,” Biden said on Monday. He was seeking to clarify a remark he made last week to US troops that they would be seeing “when you’re there … women, young people, standing in the middle of the damn tank, saying 'I’m not leaving. I’m holding my ground.’”
A White House official told CNN “there are Ukrainian soldiers in Poland interacting on a regular basis with US troops, and that’s what the President was referring to.”
Sources told CNN that while US troops are indeed providing some instruction to the Ukrainians at a military base in Poland, it does not amount to “formalized” training.
Rather, the coaching is more tactical and in-the-moment, the sources said, like showing Ukrainian soldiers who are picking up the weapons shipments in Poland how to use some of the equipment, such as Javelin anti-tank missiles that the West has been sending in large numbers. Poland has become the central transit point of arms transfers into Ukraine.
NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Tod D. Wolters told US lawmakers on Tuesday that the US had been providing “advice and assistance with respect to materiel” going into Ukraine, but that the US forces are not “in the process of currently training military forces from Ukraine in Poland.”
“There are liaisons that are there that are being given advice, and that is different than what I think you are referring to with respect to training,” Wolters told Republican Sen. Tom Cotton when asked about the training.
Wolters said separately during the hearing that “as you well know, we’ve made dramatic improvements in our information sharing and intelligence sharing, and as [the Ukrainians] continue to pursue their campaign, our advice and our assistance with respect to material will be very, very important,” Wolters said.