Ukraine made its first US small arms shipment on Monday as the Pentagon continues to assist the country’s military with preparation for the upcoming war in Syria.
The delivery of 105 weapons was stopped at a border crossing on the Ukrainian-Russian border, after the rebels and authorities in Luhansk region, where separatists are based, protested.
The US is providing training in the areas of command, control, communications and logistical support to the Ukrainian armed forces, which the Pentagon says is aimed at helping the Ukraine defend against Russia’s military “hybrid” approach to fight the Kremlin-backed rebels.
The ministry of defence in Kiev has deployed 1,300 troops to Lithuania, Bulgaria, Poland and Slovakia, as well as Serbia and Montenegro, for training this summer.
On Sunday the Ukrainian troops trained in Slovenia were praised for the fortitude they showed during a firefight with Russian-backed rebels in southeastern Ukraine in May. The Ukrainian troops were attacked on multiple fronts in a seven-hour firefight that caused great damage to the tank battalion and surrounding artillery units.
The militia forces battled Ukrainian troops from one end of their base in a pro-Russian separatist region to the other on the way to a base near the town of Miroslavo, close to the Russian border.
Ukraine’s soldiers train with armoured vehicles and helicopters in the firing range near Střcizéz, Slovenia, late last month. Photograph: Anna Novotní/AFP/Getty Images
Six soldiers were wounded and 12 were able to flee, according to the Ukrainian military.