NATO Launches Massive Troop Drills in Ukraine: Russia Warns It Will Affect Ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine

By @diplomatist10 on
Russia's envoy to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov arrives for an EU-Russia-Ukraine trilateral energy meeting at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels June 11, 2014. Russia and Ukraine will resume efforts to resolve a gas pricing disput
IN PHOTO: Russia's envoy to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov arrives for an EU-Russia-Ukraine trilateral energy meeting at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels June 11, 2014. Russia and Ukraine will resume efforts to resolve a gas pricing dispute on Wednesday after a Russian deadline for Kiev to pay some of its debts passed without Moscow cutting off supplies. Reuters/Francois Lenoir

Western military alliance NATO has begun troop exercises in Ukraine by assembling 2000 troops from 18 countries in the first ever massive drill on Ukrainian soil, amidst warnings from Russia that the war games will undermine the peace process going on in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine's Defense Ministry said troops are in an exercise known as "Rapid Trident" at the Yavoriv military training field at Lviv region. It started on July 20.

The US-led exercises, now progressing  near the city of Lvov in western Ukraine will go on until the end of July. “Multinational exercises have been conducted in Ukraine since 1995, however it is safe to say that this is the largest multinational exercise held in Ukraine to date,” said Don Wrenn, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Army in Europe. There are also troops from Germany, Spain, Turkey, Canada, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania besides non-members such as Serbia, Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan participating in the exercises.

According to Wrenn, the international troops will be practising casualty evacuation, first aid, response to ambush, identification of improvised explosive devices and simulated outpost operations. He said, it has nothing to do with the political situation and was planned ahead of time with the countries being notified and is not directly connected with the situation there. Despite that assertion, during the flag rising ceremony, Ukrainian forces commander, Oleksandr Syvak, said the war games “display a broad support for Ukraine in its struggle for freedom and sovereignty.”

Harming Ceasefire

Cautioning Ukraine and NATO, Russia’s Foreign Ministry in a statement warned that NATO drills in Ukraine will threaten the peaceful settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. It described NATO’s actions as “fueling revanchist moods among the party of war in Kiev and will jeopardise the outlined progress in the peaceful settlement of a deep internal crisis in Ukraine.” The internecine fighting in Ukraine broke out in April 2014 after the new Ukrainian government sent troops to Donbass, which had refused to recognize the change of guard in the capital Kiev.

Russian envoy to NATO, Aleksandr Grushko, also warned that the maneuvers would "disrupt" the Minsk agreement, aimed at putting an end to the fighting between government forces and rebels in eastern Ukraine. According to sources, the maneuvers also involve armoured personnel carriers, helicopters, and hitech military hardware.

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