EU debates training troops in Ukraine, no common view yet

A Ukrainian serviceman patrols an area heavily damaged by Russian military strikes in the town of Orikhiv

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union defence ministers on Tuesday debated the idea of training Ukrainian forces inside the country but did not reach a common position on the sensitive issue, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

The 27-nation bloc already has a training mission for Ukrainian troops but the training takes place in EU countries.

In February, France said the West should not rule out deploying troops to Ukraine, even as the war with Russia rages, and suggested training could be one possible role for them.

That move won support from Poland and Baltic states but alarmed other European nations such as Germany, which voiced fears that it raised the chances of a direct conflict with Russia.

"About doing part of the training in Ukraine, there has been a debate, but (there) is not a clear common European position on that," Borrell said after the ministers met in Brussels.

He said some EU members believed training inside Ukraine would be more practical, while others stressed that having military personnel in Ukraine - even as trainers - would carry more risk.

On Monday, Ukraine's top commander said he had signed paperwork allowing French military instructors to visit Ukrainian training centres soon.

The French defence ministry said the idea of conducting training in Ukraine "continues to be the subject of work with the Ukrainians, in particular to understand their exact needs".

Speaking after the Brussels meeting, Swedish Defence Minister Pal Jonson said there was no concrete proposal on the table at the moment.

But he said Ukrainian officials have stressed they plan to mobilise many more troops so there would be advantages in training them as close to Ukraine as possible.

"They're probably going to be training and equipping up to 14 brigades," Jonson said.

(Reporting by Andrew Gray and Diana Mandiá; Writing by Andrew Gray; Editing by Benoit Van Overstraeten and David Holmes)