Russia is warning the U.S. about the 300 paratroopers dropped into the Ukraine. The soldiers would reportedly be used to train Ukraine National Guard troops.
Approximately 300 U.S. Army paratroopers arrived in Ukraine despite warnings from both Russia and pro-Russian rebels stating that such a move would escalate hostilities. The paratroopers were reportedly from the 173rd Airborne Brigade based in Italy. The paratroopers are expected to spend six months training the 900 members of the Ukraine National Guard.
Vladimir Putin spokesman Dmity Peskov said that the Russian leader has also criticized the arrival of U.S. paratroopers in the Ukraine.
“The participation of instructors and specialists from a third country on the territory of Ukraine, where an unresolved intra-Ukrainian conflict remains, where problems persist in carrying out the Minsk agreement, is far from helping resolve the conflict. To the contrary, it enables destabilizing the situation.”
The Ukraine National Guard members are “ultranationalists,” claims Russian Foreign Ministry representative Alexander Lukashevich. He went on to state that the men in the Ukraine guard have “stained themselves with the blood of women, children and the elderly during their punitive operations.” A United Nations Human Rights report said at least 6,116 people have been killed since the fighting between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukraine troops began.
Ukraine Interior Minister Arsen Avakov reportedly said that the National Guard troops could include Azov Battalion. The military unit has been described by some as a “far-right” unit known for using a Nazi military insignia on their uniforms. James Hallock, a spokesman for the United States Embassy, said Azov fighters would not be included in the training offered by the U.S. Army paratroopers.
Russia will be closely watching what troops are being trained by U.S. Army paratroopers in the Ukraine, according to a report by Al Jazeera reporters in Moscow. The media outlet also stated that if “irregular” troops such as the Azov Battalion are being trained by the paratroopers, “it will give the Russians a very strong case that the U.S. is training fascists and neo-Nazis.”
Fighting in the eastern region of the Ukraine has reportedly diminished since a ceasefire deal was reached. Despite the Minsk, Belarus deal, violent clashes between the pro-Russian rebels and Ukraine soldiers have reportedly still be occurring with each sides accusing the other of a desire to restart a full-scale conflict. Lukashevich also stated that the presence of U.S. Army paratroopers violates a Minsk cease fire agreement section that banned foreign “armed formations” from Ukraine.
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