Ukraine talks further aid with U.S. as training on modern tanks starts

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken and Defense Secretary Austin visit Kyiv
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhnyi attends a meeting with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine April 24, 2022. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

Feb 13 (Reuters) - Ukraine's top general and the top U.S. Army commander in Europe discussed further military aid for Kyiv on Monday as allies began training Ukrainian troops on the Leopard 2 and other modern battle tanks that are to boost the country's defence.

Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, commander in chief of Ukraine's armed forces talked to commander in chief of Europe's combined NATO forces, U.S. General Christopher Cavoli ahead of the U.S.-led meeting of defence heads from several NATO countries on Tuesday.

"We discussed the issue of supplying international military aid to Ukraine and training our units on the territory of partner countries," Ukraine's defence ministry quoted Zaluzhnyi as saying.

Tuesday's meeting follows a Jan. 20 conference at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany that was key to decisions to send Kyiv scores of modern battle tanks, including the U.S. M1 Abrams, German Leopard 2 and British Challenger 2.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other Ukrainian officials have since been urging allies to send fighter aircraft and long-range missiles to counter the offensive and recapture lost territory, pressuring NATO to demonstrate support for Kyiv.

Germany started training Ukrainian soldiers on the Leopard 2 tanks on Monday at an army base in the northern town of Munster where Ukrainian troops are already exercising on Marder infantry fighting vehicles that will also be handed over to Kyiv.

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius has said previously the 14 German tanks Berlin has pledged, as well as their trained Ukrainian crews, are supposed to be in Ukraine around the end of March or start of April.

Polish President Andrzej Duda on Monday watched a demonstration of Leopard 2 training at a military base in Swietoszow, in southwestern Poland, where Ukrainian troops are being trained by Polish, Canadian and Norwegian instructors.

"We are already implementing not only the gathering of these tanks for Ukraine, but also the training cycle so that Ukrainian soldiers are prepared and able to move to oppose the Russian onslaught," Duda said, according to a transcript on the presidential website.

Another group of Ukrainian forces is being trained in Britain on the Challenger 2 tanks.

Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold; Writing by Elaine Monaghan and Lidia Kelly; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Lincoln Feast.

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