KIEV, Dec. 28 - President Petro Poroshenko approved a plan for joint military exercises involving Ukrainian and foreign armed forces in 2016, according to a decree posted by the presidential administration.
The plan also allows certain number of foreign troops next year to participate in the exercises on Ukrainian soil, according to the decree.
Ukraine’s Constitution does not let foreign troops in the country so lawmakers have to approve a special bill every year allowing exercises that involve foreign troops. Parliament voted to approve the bill outlining the 2016 exercises on December 25.
The exercises are crucial for improving combat readiness of the Ukrainian troops as the country is facing a military aggression by Moscow-backed pro-Russian forces in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
The plans for the exercises include participation of up to 5,000 troops, including forces from the U.S. and other NATO members, with arms and military hardware and up to 12 planes and helicopters in January through December 2016 within NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) program.
The plans also include up to 600 troops from Canada, Lithuania and Poland, with arms and hardware for up to 25 days in May-November 2016 for the Maple Arch-2016 multinational exercise.
Also, the U.S. and other NATO members and PfP participants will contribute up to 2,000 troops with arms and military hardware, up to 15 ships, up to five submarines, up to 12 planes and helicopters and up to 100 wheeled vehicles for up to 25 days in June-October 2016 for the Sea Breeze-2016 U.S.-Ukrainian military exercise.
The U.S., other NATO members and PfP participants will contribute up to 2,000 troops with arms and military hardware, up to five planes and ten helicopters for up to 25 days in June-November 2016 for the Rapid Trident-2016 U.S.-Ukrainian military exercise.
Poroshenko instructed the government to ensure timely access by, and withdrawal of foreign armed forces to and from Ukraine, as well as the safety of Ukrainian and other citizens during the exercises.
The Ukrainian defense minister will be responsible for the preparation and conduct of the multinational military exercises in Ukraine in 2016 and ensuring the Ukrainian Armed Forces' participation in multinational exercise abroad in 2016. (nr/ez)