'Direct Interference': Why US Military Instructors Stay On in Ukraine's Donbass
The arrival of US military instructors in eastern Ukraine's Donbass region indicates Washington's "direct interference" in the Ukrainian conflict, Russian military expert Viktor Baranets told Sputnik.
In an interview with Sputnik, Russian military expert Viktor Baranets described the arrival of US military instructors in Donbass as direct White House interference in the Ukrainian conflict.
Earlier, the Defense Ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) reported the arrival of American military instructors in the conflict zone in Donbass.
"The arrival of military instructors from the United States in the area of the so-called anti-terrorist operation [in Donbass] has been tracked, ATO has been established," DPR Deputy Defense Minister Eduard Basurin said, adding that "one of the goals of the arrival of US instructors was to check the readiness of Ukrainian Armed Forces for combat operations."
Speaking to Sputnik, Viktor Baranets pointed to the fact that the American instructors had worked in Ukraine in previous months and that they are currently being rotated in.
"American instructors were in place there from the very beginning, and they were endorsed by the Security Service of Ukraine. What's more, the US instructors trained servicemen from the Ukrainian Armed Forces who were deployed to the Donetsk front line," Baranets said.
According to him, "foreign military hardware was also supplied to the Ukrainian servicemen" who were stationed in the DPR, where they were taught tactics, among other things.
"That is, American instructors have worked there before. I think that now a rotation has just happened as they are studying the theater of military operations in this ‘shuttle’ way and telling the General Staff of Ukraine how to act in this region," Baranest added.
He also said that the presence of the US military in Donbass indicates the Americans' "direct interference" in the Ukrainian conflict.
"It reflects the US military's great interest in the region. It is safe to say that American servicemen have become one of the players in this conflict," he said.
Baranets recalled that the Americans have already deployed their drones to the conflict zone and that the US military has their representatives in the Defense Ministry, the General Staff and the Security Service of Ukraine.
'All this reflects the depth of involvement of the American military in the Ukrainian conflict," Baranets concluded.
Right now, Washington provides military assistance to Kiev in the form of uniforms and equipment, rather than "lethal weapons." In addition, American military instructors conduct training of Ukrainian soldiers.
During his visit to the United States in March, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin spoke of the high efficiency of the Ukraine units trained by US specialists, and asked the US Senate to continue such support in the future.
The commander of US forces in Europe, General Curtis Scaparrotti, for his part said that the United States should strengthen the Ukrainian army so that it can confront the Donbass militia.
In February 2015, Kiev's forces and supporters of Donbass independence in eastern Ukraine signed a peace agreement in the Belarusian capital of Minsk.
The deal stipulates a full ceasefire, the withdrawal of weapons from the line of contact in Donbass, as well as constitutional reforms that would give special status to the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics.