According to a Department of Defense press release, the Pentagon is sending 290 US service members into Ukraine to train Ukrainian military units in April. The training will reportedly occur in the Ukrainian city of Yavoriv near the Ukraine-Poland border. The US soldiers will be from the 173rd Airborne Brigade based in Vicenza, Italy.
— Sputnik (@SputnikInt) March 25, 2015
The basis for the training mission, per the press release, is to further “ongoing efforts to help sustain Ukraine’s defense and internal security operations. In particular, the training will help the Ukraine government develop its National Guard to conduct internal defense operations.”
As Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland herself pointed out before Congress, the US does not have a defense treaty with Ukraine making the act of sending in troops to train Ukraine forces seemingly inappropriate if not openly provocative to Russia. Or maybe that’s the point?
The government in Kiev is struggling to maintain order and has been jailing journalists and others for opposing the draft and the continued war with separatists in the east. The government also faces an increasing threat from neofascist militias known as “volunteers” that it once empowered. The militias have become antagonistic of the government and threatened to overthrow it for failing to crush the separatists.
President Poroshenko’s attempts to consolidate power have been made easier by a wave of apparent suicides by former officials of overthrown President Viktor Yanukovich. Whether a weakened opposition is enough to help him fend off disaster remains to be seen as the Ukrainian economy poses just as much of a threat to his rule as the neofascist militias. Yesterday Ukraine’s finance minister warned that Ukraine could be forced into defaulting on its debts if there was not a restructuring soon.
Will US military involvement make the situation for Ukraine better or worse?