Since April, U.S. troops have been training Ukrainian troops on basic warfare, but moving closer to the east has Moscow suspicious of why.
NBC News is reporting American troops are teaching military operation to Ukrainian troops in live-fire drills and counter-insurgency exercises about 700 miles away in Eastern Ukraine and near the Russian border. Meanwhile Vladimir Putin sees the lessons as provocation.
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This is the first time the United States military has directly trained Ukrainian forces. Previously, the lessons were more instructional, but it's easy to assume many of the G7 leaders are preparing for war. And even former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned of second Cold War as Berlin celebrated the Fall of the Wall.
In a six-month mission, U.S. troops will be working with over 700 Ukrainian soldiers in three rotations. Troop leaders claim the students are improving. Beginning in April, the rotations aim teach through example and demonstration. A case of protection through knowledge with a short-term solution.
Capt. Nick Salimbene told NBC News "from what we saw at day one to where they are at right now," the improvement shows a "willingness to learn." U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade are training the Ukrainian troops as peace talk agreements fall against increased fighting.
The U.N. estimates that over 6,400 people have died in the conflict since April 2014.
Special Rapporteur Chaloka Beyani of the Human Rights Council reported on the human rights of internally displaced persons in Ukraine and the need for the Ukrainian government to put measures in place to protect those leaving the Crimea, Luhansk, and Donetsk regions.
Losing property, income, and any number of social ties leads to many people forced to move outside their region. In the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, properties are unsellable due to an instability and incomplete government body. The HRC recommends compensation for permanetly displaced people, including money to find a new place to live outside the war zone.
Death tolls may include many family members who remain behind to protect property and family items as shells fall around them in ingoing battle. And death weighs heavy on the soldiers' minds. When NBC News recently visited the Yavoriv training center and watched two Ukrainian National Guardsmen explode a wooden tank by RPGs, the crowd of American and Ukrainians cheered.
"This is a scenario they could see in the conflict in the east," Trainer 2nd Lt. Ty Boyle explained to the news. Focusing on possibilities instead of administrative restrictions, the two forces hope to prepare for any future engagements.
Ukrainian soldiers told NBC News that the idea was to train in defensive, urban warfare as the Ukrainian civil war picks up steam with Moscow backing ‘ethnic’ Russians. Unfortunately, that rhetoric rarely works. Offering aid at the request of the government in Kiev, the breakdown of talks and aggressive stance by Putin may render the Minsk agreements as invalid.
The U.S. military clearly points out that only National Guard troops will receive training as they work inside national borders, a secondary wave of defense for the otherwise occupied Ukrainian army.
However, Moscow does not believe the United States has any plans to leave the nation.
"This all is very reminiscent of the 50-year-old story with Vietnam," claimed Maxim Shepovalenko. He works as a military analyst for the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Russia’s capital.
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"The U.S.-Vietnam involvement started with instructors as well and then it developed into a full-scale military involvement." Of course, the difference of military strategy and political positioning should make the point mooted. But resolution depends on the actions of military leaders on both sides of the conflict.