Hundreds of US paratroopers have arrived in Ukraine to train its forces fighting pro-Russian rebels, the US army said Friday, a move Moscow warned could "destabilise" the war-torn ex-Soviet country.
"Soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade have been arriving over the last week," Donald Wrenn, a US army spokesman, told AFP.
"We will have about 300 soldiers from the brigade on the ground providing the training that will last over the next six months."
The move raised heckles in Moscow, which accuses the United States of backing the protests that brought down Ukraine's Kremlin-backed president Viktor Yanukovych last year.
"The participation of instructors and experts from third countries on Ukrainian territory... of course, does not help to resolve the conflict," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Pekov said.
"On the contrary, it can seriously destabilise the situation," he said, quoted by Russian news agencies.
Following Yanukovych's ouster and Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, a pro-Russia uprising in east Ukraine sparked a conflict that has killed more than 6,000 people and injured nearly 15,500 over the past year, according to the United Nations.
17 April 2015
US boots are now on the ground in Ukraine to train forces fighting pro-Russia rebels
Posted by Brant at 18:55
06 April 2015
With the looming Russian threat on the horizon, Eastern European nations are taking the time to organize and train their common citizens.
NATO aircraft scream across eastern European skies and American armored vehicles rumble near the border with Russia on a mission to reassure citizens that they're safe from Russian aggression.
But these days, ordinary people aren't taking any chances.
In Poland, doctors, shopkeepers, lawmakers and others are heeding a call to receive military training in case of an invasion. Neighboring Lithuania is restoring the draft and teaching citizens what to do in case of war. Nearby Latvia has plans to give university students military training next year.
The drive to teach ordinary people how to use weapons and take cover under fire reflects soaring anxiety among people in a region where memories of Moscow's domination — which ended only in the 1990s — remain raw. People worry that their security and hard-won independence are threatened as saber-rattling intensifies between the West and Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, where more than 6,000 people have died.
In Poland, the oldest generation remembers the Soviet Army's invasion in 1939, at the start of World War II. Younger people remain traumatized by the repression of the communist regime that lasted more than four decades.
It's a danger felt across the EU newcomer states that border Russia.
Posted by Brant at 19:43