Previously planned annual NATO military exercises inside Ukraine were understandably delayed by a massive civil war breaking out in eastern Ukraine. NATO, apparently seeing it as a chance to stick it to Russia, is now saying they plan to hold the exercises later this month, even though the war is still going on.
Fortunately, the 10-day exercises will be taking place in western Ukraine, far from the actual warzone, and close to the border with Poland. 1,300 NATO troops, including 200 US combat troops, will be taking part.
NATO usually holds these Ukraine operations in the early summer, inviting several nations from eastern Europe to take part in anti-insurgency training. This year, the training is likely to be spun as centering on a putative Russian invasion of Europe.
The US is also sending the Ross, an anti-ballistic missile destroyer, into the Baltic Sea this week, to “promote peace” in the region. The ship is unlikely to play a real part in the training exercise, but is just the latest in a series of ships the US has sent into the area near Russia’s coast, apparently simply to needle the Russian navy.
President Obama says he wants NATO to build up Ukraine’s military so that it can more readily tackle ethnic Russian separatists in the east of the country, and there are reports the US and others are considering arms shipments.