Officials with the Defense Department have been ordered by the administration to travel to Ukraine where they will perform analysis and provide recommendations as to the level of military assistance that country needs in order to effectively combat pro-Russian militants occupying the area near the eastern border.
According to a report in The Washington Times, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed that military advisors will travel to Ukraine with the mission of working with local forces to “shape and establish an enduring program for future U.S. efforts to support the Ukrainian military through subject-matter expert teams and long-term advisers.”
Another DoD spokesperson confirmed to USA Today that U.S. military officials met with their Ukrainian counterparts this week and discussed ways in which “ways our countries could strengthen our long-term defense cooperation to help Ukraine build highly effective armed forces and defense institutions.”
President Barack Obama revealed earlier in the week that he had approved a plan to send $5 million in body armor, night vision goggles, and communications equipment to Ukraine. American financial support will also help Ukraine supply that nation’s State Border Guard Service.
The more cautious voice in the commentary class are quick to note that neither America nor Russia wants a new Cold War, and the West should be careful not to instigate one. But how is the situation in Ukraine — were two combatant parties armed and financed, to varying degrees, by Washington and Moscow — so distinct from any of the major proxy wars fought over the course of the Cold War?
While noting the absence of an ideological factor motivating the combatants, how is the present “civil war” in Ukraine markedly distinct from “civil wars” fought in Greece or Angola? Why is Ukraine, where militants are trained in Russia and sent to battlefields in Ukraine to fight American-backed indigenous militants so dissimilar from the Afghanistan experience in the 1980s?
Is it merely politically problematic to acknowledge the reality that Russia is reassembling its Soviet sphere by military means and the United States is resisting it, albeit covertly, in a similar fashion?
It seems like a new Cold War to me, and it does not seem an especially productive enterprise to continue denying that fact only to maintain the comfortable fiction that conflict between Moscow and the West is a thing of the past.