Kiev, Mar 31: Hundreds of US paratroopers will train Ukrainian soldiers from April 20 as Kiev battles to contain pro-Russian separatists in the country's east, Ukrainian interior minister Arsen Avakov has said.
"290 US paratroopers will arrive on April 20 at the Yavoriv military zone" in the government-controlled western region of Lviv, near the Polish border, Avakov wrote on his Facebook account yesterday.
Soldiers from the US 173rd Airborne brigade, based in Italy, will instruct around 900 troops from the National Guard of Ukraine (NGU) in three waves of training, each lasting eight weeks, followed by joint war games.
The NGU is made up of reservists, and was reformed in 2014 to bring volunteers and militia under government control following the Maidan protests that brought down the pro-Russian government of Victor Yanukovych, sparking conflict between those loyal to Kiev and Moscow.
US-led manoeuvres in a country neighbouring Russia are likely to provoke anger in Moscow.
President Vladimir Putin accuses the US of fuelling the Maidan protests. The West counters that the Russian leader has supplied the separatists movement with weapons and troops during a near year-long conflict that has claimed over 6,000 lives, but Putin has always denied the claims.
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday took delivery of ten US armoured vehicles, two days after American lawmakers voted to urge President Barack Obama to provide "lethal" aid to Kiev. A shaky ceasefire is currently in place in Ukraine, but skirmishes continue on a daily basis.