The US Army is preparing to send approximately 300 troops to train and advise Ukrainian forces in western Ukraine, according to a tender on a US government website that requires logistics for the troops.
“The contractor shall provide all equipment, vehicles, and personnel necessary to provide ground transportation in accordance with the ordering clause,” the tender states.
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The tender also announced that the US government is looking for a contractor to provide seven 50-passenger buses from March 5 through October 31, 2015 in order to transport up to 300 US troops from the L’viv International airport to the International Peace Keeping and Security Center (IPSC) at the Yavoriv training area in western Ukraine.
The Yavoriv training area, near the Polish-Ukrainian border, is the Europe’s largest military firing range, covering 40,000 square kilometers. The last international military exercises in L’viv took place in September 2014. About 1,300 servicemen from 15 countries, including the US, Canada, Germany and the UK took a part in it.
In February, US government confirmed that it will send troops to Ukraine to assist Kyiv army with training and advice on fighting against pro-Russian separatists in the conflict, which has dragged on for 11 months now, and has left 6,000 dead, according to a United Nations tally.
“We’ll train them in security tasks, medical [tasks], how to operate in an environment where the Russians are jamming [communications] and how to protect [themselves] from Russian and rebel artillery,” US Army Europe Commander Ben Hodges was cited as saying by Reuters on February 11.
The United States has already allocated $19 million to help build the Ukrainian National Guard. Funding for the initiative was requested by the US President Barack Obama administration in the fiscal 2015 budget and comes from the congressionally-authorized Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF).
Poland has also supported the initiative by saying that Warsaw will send military advisers to Ukraine.
UK follows US and Poland in sending military trainers to Ukraine
Prime Minister David Cameron announced in late February that Britain is to send military “advisers” and “nonlethal aid” to Ukraine in order to improve Kyiv’s tactical advantage.
Britain will be sending 75 trainers to western Ukraine in the next few weeks to provide advice on logistics, battlefield first aid, logistics, tactical intelligence analysis and infantry training. They will also assess the training needs of the Ukrainian army’s infantry.
However, Ken Clarke, the former Justice Secretary, told The Telegraph that David Cameron’s pledge to send UK troops to train Ukraine’s army will not “solve anything”, and that “no matter how well trained” the Ukrainian army is, Vladimir Putin’s forces could defeat them “by the end of the week”.
On the other hand, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has warned that supplying weapons to Ukraine would worsen the situation, Reuters reported in February.
Furthermore, Canadian Defense Minister Jason Kenney, speaking on CBC’s Power and Politics, has stated that Canada may follow Britain and the US in sending military advisers to Ukraine. Although he pointed out that any Canadian soldiers who would be sent to Ukraine would stay far away from the area of conflict.
On Tuesday, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey spoke out in favor of supplying Ukraine with US military assistance. “I think we should absolutely consider lethal aid and it ought to be in the context of NATO allies because Putin’s ultimate objective is to fracture NATO,” AFP cited Dempsey, speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Meanwhile, NATO’s Gen. Philip Breedlove told United States lawmakers that even if the US supplied lethal aid to Ukraine’s army, they wouldn’t be able to stop Putin from advancing further into Eastern Ukraine.
“In the current configuration I do not think that Ukrainian forces can stop a Russian advance in Eastern Ukraine,” NATO’s top military commander Gen. Philip Breedlove stated during a House Armed Services hearing on the Pentagon’s response to the Russian aggression on NATO’s eastern flank. “And to the degree that we can supply help, I’m not sure that they could stop a Russian advance in Eastern Ukraine even if we supply aid … but what we’re doing now is not changing the results on the ground.”
“More than 1,000 pieces of Russian military equipment have been transferred into Ukraine, including tanks, armored personnel carriers, heavy artillery pieces and other military vehicles and equipment,” he added. “These are not the actions of a good faith negotiating partner.”
It’s not a secret that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s government needs foreign aid badly and it needs it as soon as possible. Many people might argue that it’s best not to “provoke” Mr. Putin now that we have the Minsk-2 ‘peace agreement’ brokered on February 12. But since nobody knows what Putin has on his mind, providing security assistance to Ukraine would be the right thing to do.