Ukrainian reservists take part in exercises near Kiev in late December (AFP/Sergei SUPINSKY)
Joe Biden has ruled out sending American soldiers to Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion, but a few hundred American soldiers are already deployed there, and the Pentagon may have to evacuate them.
The presence of US soldiers in Ukraine is nothing new: since 2015, US National Guard reservists have been rotating there to train and train the Ukrainian army, along with soldiers from other NATO countries, especially Canadians and Germans.
About 200 Florida National Guard reservists arrived at the Yavoriv International Training Center in western Ukraine at the end of November to participate in a training and assistance mission for the Ukrainian military.
“They are currently deployed to Ukraine on a periodic advice and assistance mission, and they are participating in training, and we expect that mission to continue,” Pentagon spokesman John said Tuesday.
“We continue to monitor the situation on the ground, and if we have to make decisions to protect our forces, we will,” he added, as the White House estimated on Wednesday that Russia could launch an attack. In Ukraine “At any time”.
Since 2015, the US National Guard — reservists who participate in disaster relief operations in the United States but also in training and training operations around the world — have conducted eight nine-month courses in Ukraine.
The current National Guard rotation in Ukraine is scheduled to continue until the end of June.
Yavorev’s post is located in the far west of Ukraine, only about fifteen kilometers from the Polish border, and American soldiers do not seem to be in immediate danger in the event of a Russian invasion.
This photo taken by the Russian Defense Ministry shows its army during a joint military exercise with Belarus on September 13, 2021, east of Moscow. (Russian Ministry of Defense/paper)
According to Westerners, Russia has massed more than 100,000 men near its border with Ukraine, in the east of the country. Also on Tuesday, Russian troops officially arrived in Belarus, another country bordering Ukraine, for training exercises.
Russia denies any belligerent intentions with regard to Ukraine and says it has been threatened with a strengthening of NATO in the region since the fall of the Soviet Union.
– Special forces are there –
Besides these reservists, the US military has deployed elite Special Forces soldiers to Ukraine, where they help train Ukrainian special forces, a US Defense Department spokesperson told AFP.
“For security reasons, we cannot reveal their number,” he added.
US Special Forces usually deploy small groups of elite soldiers, trained to operate semi-autonomously.
US soldiers in western Ukraine during a maneuver with several other western armies on June 24, 2015. (AFP/YURIY DYACHYSHYN)
“They play a big role in the development of the Ukrainian special forces by validating the correctness of their training,” the spokesman said. “Our support and training are intended to strengthen relations (with Kiev) and underscore the United States’ commitment to ensuring the success of a stable and free Ukraine.”
American soldiers are specially training their Ukrainian counterparts in handling the weapons Washington has provided Ukraine, particularly small arms, patrol ships and Javelin anti-tank missile launchers.
Les Etats-Unis ont annoncé mercredi le déblocage de 200 millions de dollars supplémentaires d’aide sécuritaire à l’Ukraine, qui s’ajoutent aux 450 millions de dollars débloqués avant les mouvements de à troupes fronti russes de la ukre’ la The last year.
When asked last month about the possible participation of US soldiers in the country in a potential conflict on the side of the Ukrainian army, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin evaded the question.
“I think in situations like this, declaring red lines not to be crossed only exacerbates the problem,” he told trade magazine Defense One. “We need to focus on ways to reduce tensions.”
Those American soldiers on the ground could play a role if the evacuation of American nationals in Ukraine proves necessary in the face of the Russian military’s advance.
The State Department estimates the number of US citizens in Ukraine at between 10,000 and 15,000.
sl / ube
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