The Pentagon has announced today a dramatic escalation of its training operation in Ukraine, moving from its small training mission for Ukraine’s National Guard to a direct training program for Ukraine’s regular military forces, as well as special operations troops.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has made it clear he sees the purpose of the training as “to learn how to beat Russia,” and the escalation of the training toward combat troops is likely to add some tensions to US-Russian relations, with Poroshenko openly envisioning his country as the staging ground for a global war on Russia.
Russian officials are downplaying the seriousness of the program so far, however, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov citing the disastrous state of the US-trained armies in Iraq and Afghanistan as proof the US training won’t be a real game-changer.
The US plan now is to train five battalions of Ukrainian troops, along with a battalion of special forces. The training is centered on Western Ukraine to avoid any risk of direct US involvement in the civil war in the east, which is in a state of ceasefire at any rate.