EU set to train 15,000 Ukrainian troops, provide more arms funding for Kyiv

BRUSSELS, Oct 17 (Reuters) – European Union foreign ministers are expected to agree on a mission to train 15,000 Ukrainian troops from next month and additional funds worth 500 million euros when they meet in Luxembourg on Monday agree on arms deliveries to Kyiv.

Ministers are also likely to impose additional sanctions on Iran over Tehran’s recent crackdown on protesters and take a fresh look at the bloc’s relations with China, paving the way for a potentially tougher stance on Beijing.

Two senior EU officials said military training will begin in mid-November and will take place on EU territory at a hub in Poland and another in Germany.

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Several EU countries have already trained Ukrainian troops in the use of specific weapons and this is continuing.

The European Union has supported Kyiv since the beginning of the war with financial aid and, for the first time in the Union, with military aid.

Foreign ministers will agree to pay an additional 500 million euros ($486 million) into a fund to compensate EU member states for arms sales to Ukraine, bringing the total amount earmarked for arms to Kyiv to over 3 billion euros.

Unlike previous tranches, the additional funds will also cover the cost of repairing and servicing weapons already shipped to Ukraine.

SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN

EU ministers are expected to impose travel bans and asset freezes on some 15 Iranians involved in the crackdown on protesters in Iran who took to the streets after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody.

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EU foreign ministers will also discuss the transfer of Iranian drones to Russia, paving the way for possible further sanctions that could be agreed at a later date.

On China, ministers will consider “fine-tuning” the relationship, officials said, noting that Beijing is a crucial trading partner for the EU and that Europe is dependent on Chinese products and raw materials.

Diplomats say Brussels is concerned that Chinese President Xi Jinping is leading China down an increasingly authoritarian path and worried about Xi’s backing of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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“The goal is not to radically change this (EU) policy, but obviously things have happened and ministers will talk about it,” said an EU official, adding that in the future it might be necessary to change the policy to change.

He said the bloc’s leaders would discuss China policy at a summit on Thursday and Friday, and the EU would also closely monitor the Communist Party Congress that opened on Sunday.

($1 = 1.0289 euros)

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Reporting by Sabine Siebold, additional reporting by Charlotte Van Campenhout, editing by Alexandra Hudson

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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