YAVORIV, Ukraine (April 20, 2015) -- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt marked the start of combined training between U.S. Soldiers and Ukrainian national guard troops during a visit to the International Peacekeeping and Security Center here, April 20, 2015.
The training, known as Fearless Guardian, involves approximately 300 paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade training Ukraine's newly-formed national guard under the congressionally-approved Global Contingency Security Fund. Under the program, the United States will train three battalions of Ukrainian troops over a six-month period here.
Poroshenko delivered a speech during the ceremony, thanking paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne for participating in the training and expressed hope for the friendship between the United States and Ukraine.
"Dear generals, officers, sergeants and American Soldiers, [a] combined exercise of such scale and content is being held, probably, for the first time," Poroshenko said. "Our meeting today is a symbol of our new partnership and a new future."
The ceremony concluded with Poroshenko awarding Ukrainian troops, who distinguished themselves in Eastern Ukraine.
Both the president and ambassador toured classrooms that will be used for training, followed by lunch, where they sat with both Ukrainian and U.S. Soldiers.
"I am excited for our paratroopers to have the opportunity to come to Ukraine and train with Ukrainian troops," said Maj. Nathan Williams, the executive officer for 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade. "This [training] will help bolster capabilities of both our Soldiers and Ukrainian Soldiers."
For the Ukrainian national guard troops, the event marked the beginning of much needed training.
"Our Soldiers look forward to training with the American troops," said Col. Sergey Alexandrovich Moscalenko, the battalion commander for the Ukrainian national guard participating in the training.
"We are excited to see what the Americans [Soldiers] can do and how we can learn from them."
More than 180 journalists from all over the world covered the event.