Germany and Russia signed a defense agreement Monday that will see the German military train the Russian military’s top special operations troops in exchange for a Russian fighter jet fighter jet.
The deal, announced by Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, will allow the two nations to train and equip each other’s special operations forces.
Germany’s Defense Ministry said the agreement includes training in the fields of combat medicine, combat medicine operations, and air defense, among other fields.
Von der Leyengen said the deal also covers the development of a new joint special operations task force for the German army.
“This is an important step in our defense cooperation and I’m very happy that it’s happening,” von der Lichten said.
The German government is already spending around $2 billion a year to train the elite Russian special operations and special operations commandos in the country.
Von Der Leyen said she hopes the deal will be a stepping stone for the future cooperation between the two countries.
“We need to be able to train those special operations soldiers and those special operators, because if we don’t train them, they won’t get the training they need,” she said.
German officials say they’re not interested in building up a permanent military presence in Russia.
They say Germany needs to be a strong partner in the global security environment and NATO is not ready to take on a permanent presence in Europe.
Russia is a longtime foe of Germany and Germany is one of its main foreign military customers.
Last year, Germany’s government imposed sanctions on Russia, accusing it of sponsoring separatist actions in eastern Ukraine.
But Berlin has been trying to repair ties with Russia after the collapse of the Cold War.