President Barack Obama might not be prepared to commit the United States to providing lethal aid to Ukraine in its effort to beat back Russian aggression destabilizing the eastern portion of that country, but America is increasingly committed to that fight.
“At a former Soviet military base outside of the western Ukrainian town of Lviv, about 300 U.S. Army paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, which is based in Vicenza, Italy, are training the Ukrainian National Guard,” Newsweek revealed this week.
Though they are not using American weapons, Ukraine’s soldiers are receiving a crash course in U.S. military tactics in its battle against pro-Russian separatists and, increasingly, Russian regulars.
“From the earliest days of the war, the government in Kiev had asked for military help from the United States,” The New York Times reported. “What eventually arrived was basic training.”
American tactical training is not the only assistance the United States is providing to Ukraine. U.S. political aid is also on the way in the form of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). “Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has appointed John McCain, a hawkish US senator who has pressed Washington to send lethal weapons to war-torn Ukraine, as his advisor,” an AFP dispatch read.
The Advisory International Council of Reforms is to be headed by Mikheil Saakashvili, the fiercely pro-Western former president of Georgia, and will also include Elmar Brok, a member of the European Parliament, and economist Anders Aslund.
The US senator said he would be honored to take up the post, adding however that he first had to be cleared by the Senate.
“Deeply honored to be asked to advise the gov’t of #Ukraine. Must ensure compliance w/ Senate rules, but I’ll always stand w/ free #Ukraine,” McCain said on Twitter.
The Logan Act just isn’t worth the paper it’s written on anymore, is it?
Petro Poroshenko’s selection of McCain and Saakashvili to serve in an advisory capacity is as clear a signal to Moscow as Ukraine could hope to send. There will be no diplomatic accommodations while Russia is engaged in military provocations in Ukraine. War is the order of the day.
While America is tepidly dipping its toe into the war in Europe, military analysts expect Moscow to revive its stealth invasion of its neighbor in the coming weeks. It’s doubtful that McCain and his fellow Poroshenko counselors will advise caution.