USA Sending More Troops to Train Ukrainian Military Forces

The Associated Press

The Pentagon and State Department have announced the United States will train regular Ukrainian military forces this year.

“This training is part of our long-running defense cooperation with Ukraine and is taking place at the invitation of the Ukraine government,” explained State Department spokesman Mark Toner. “This additional program brings our total security assistance committed to Ukraine since 2014 to over $244 million.”

The U.S. already sent “300 soldiers from the Army’s 173rd Airborne brigade” to train national guard troops in west Ukraine under the Interior Ministry. The Ministry of Defense troops will receive the latest U.S. troops since they fight in the east against Russian soldiers and pro-Russian rebels.

“This small unit training will be conducted by personnel from U.S. Army Europe to help develop the internal defense capabilities and institutional training capacity of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, and is similar to our ongoing training of the National Guard,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Laura Seal.

Training includes regular military exercises along with medicine. America promised to accept “a dozen or so wounded Ukrainian soldiers at military hospitals like Walter Reed later in the summer.” The agreement only includes non-lethal aid such as armor and radios.

Russia invaded Ukraine in March 2014 after the pro-Europe parliament ousted Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovych. The east fell into war while Moscow annexed Crimea. Over 7,000 people have died in the 16-month war. Fighting continues despite numerous attempts at peace.

In April, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced at least 200 Canadian troops will land in Ukraine by the end of the summer to help train Ukrainian forces.

Lithuania, one of the very few NATO and EU countries to reach out to Ukraine, agreed to send military help. President Dalia Grybauskaite called Russia a “terrorist state” and continually urges the EU to do more to help Ukraine against Russian aggression.

“Lithuania is one of the countries that recently walked a difficult road towards the restoration of independence,” she said. “We know that today Ukraine is fighting for peace in Europe, for all of us. If a terrorist state that is engaged in open aggression against its neighbor is not stopped, then that aggression might spread further into Europe.”

She continued:

Political, humanitarian and military support is needed for this country, these people, who chose the democratic path, who chose to run their country themselves, who decided on the direction for their country. i.e., the European Union, for them to be able to do that without pressure, without military intervention and aggression. Lithuania, just like other European countries, realizes that peace must be fought for, peace must be defended, independence and sovereignty are untouchable, every nation has the right to have their own state and nobody can dictate them, be it a small or a big country. Nobody can dictate the way they should live. We must clearly state this to the Kremlin, the Russian leadership that such actions will never be tolerated.

While the EU is not as enthused to help as Lithuania, NATO started exercises in Ukraine last week. Over 2,000 troops from 18 countries participated “in the first ever massive drill on Ukrainian soil.” These countries include Germany, Turkey, and Romania.

“Multinational exercises have been conducted in Ukraine since 1995, however it is safe to say that this is the largest multinational exercise held in Ukraine to date,” declared public affairs specialist Don Wrenn for the U.S. Army in Europe.


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