Given the recent US Congress blockage for the US mission in Ukraine to train neo-Nazi formations, the Canadian troops that are heading to Ukraine, are concerned with the paramilitary formations.
The Canadian mission to Ukraine will have to train military forces this summer.
Sending soldiers from Petawawa Garrison in the Ottawa Valley, the authorities fear not to get involved into extemist groups assistance.
Democratic Congressman John Conyers, Jr. joined forces with Republican Congressman Ted Yoho last week to add an amendment to the Pentagon's defence spending request. The amendments, passed unanimously by members of both parties, blocks "the training of the Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitary militia Azov Battalion," Conyers' office noted.
"If there's one simple lesson we can take away from U.S. involvement in conflicts overseas, it's this: Beware of unintended consequences," explained Conyers in a statement.
Defence Minister Jason Kenney acknowledged in April that Canadian military leaders discussed how to avoid training extremists in the upcoming Ukraine mission. He said Canadian soldiers would not be training ad hoc militias and would only instruct units of the Ukrainian National Guard and the army.
But Conyers pointed out while the Azov Battalion is a 1,000-man militia unit, it is also now part of the Ukrainian National Guard. He labelled the battalion as "repulsive."
The amendments put forward by Conyers and Yoho would also prevent the transfer of portable shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to Ukrainian or Iraqi troops.
U.S. lawmakers have voiced concern about American military equipment falling into the wrong hands. Tanks, trucks, anti-tank rockets and other gear were captured by the Islamic State after Iraqi troops retreated in large numbers. Some U.S. supplies provided to Ukraine's government have ended up on the black market.
Department of National Defence spokeswoman Ashley Lemire said Tuesday that Ukraine is responsible for screening the troops that will be trained by Canada. "The first instalment of trainees will be members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (Land Division), which falls under the Ministry of Defence," she stated in an email. "We have been assured that this group will not include members of the Azov Battalion as this battalion is not integrated into the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence."
Conyers' office noted that Ukraine's Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, recently announced that Azov troops would be among the first to be trained by the U.S.
Jack Harris, the NDP defence critic, said concerns have been raised before about what forces Canada could end up training.
The Conservative government has committed as many as 200 Canadian soldiers to train Ukraine's military.
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