(CNN) — US troops in Poland have been instructing Ukrainians on how to use weapons that the West has sent to Ukraine, sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
President Joe Biden said Monday that US troops in Poland have been “helping to train Ukrainian soldiers” in that country. The troops were deployed there to help bolster NATO’s eastern flank amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The training is another way the US has aided the Ukrainian military, while trying not to engage Russian forces directly, which could trigger a broader war.
The soldiers told Biden while he was in Poland about how they were providing the tactical weapons training to the Ukrainians, according to the sources.
“We were talking about helping to train the Ukrainian troops that are in Poland,” Biden said Monday. He was trying to clarify a comment he made last week to US troops that they would see “when they’re there … women, young people, standing in the middle of the damn tank, saying, ‘I’m not leaving. I’m standing my ground.'” .
A White House official told CNN: “There are Ukrainian soldiers in Poland who regularly interact with US troops, and that’s what the president was referring to.”
The sources told CNN that although US troops are training Ukrainians at a military base in Poland, it is not “formal” training.
Rather, the training is more tactical and on the spot, the sources explained. That includes showing Ukrainian soldiers picking up weapons shipments in Poland how to use some of that equipment, like the Javelin anti-tank missiles that the West has been shipping in large numbers. Poland has become the central transit point for arms transfers to Ukraine.
The US has allocated $1 billion in security aid to Ukraine in the last month alone, and intends to provide Ukraine’s armed forces with more than 9,000 shoulder-mounted anti-tank weapons, including Javelins; nearly 7,000 small arms, including machine guns and grenade launchers; 20 million rounds of ammunition; and 100 armed drones.
“These are direct transfers of equipment from our Department of Defense to the Ukrainian military to help them fight this invasion,” Biden said earlier this month. “We’re going to continue to do more in the coming days and weeks.”
NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Gen. Tod D. Wolters, told US lawmakers on Tuesday that the United States had been providing “advice and assistance regarding materiel” going to Ukraine, but that US forces were not they are “in the process of currently training Ukrainian military forces in Poland.”
“There are liaisons that are out there that get advice, and that’s different from what I think you’re referring to with regards to training,” Wolters told Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas when asked about the training.
Wolters said separately during the hearing that “as you well know, we have greatly improved our information and intelligence sharing, and while [los ucranianos] continue with your campaign, our advice and our help regarding the material will be very, very important,” said Wolters.
Although the US and NATO have so far ruled out sending troops to Ukraine, in addition to tactical military training there has been a robust exchange of information between US and Ukrainian forces, CNN has previously reported.
In most cases, according to two sources familiar with the sharing system, the intelligence being shared includes information on the movements and location of Russian forces, as well as intercepted communications about their military plans.