The head of the United States Army Europe, Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, announced on Wednesday that a contingent of US soldiers will be dispatched to Ukraine in the spring to undertake the training of four companies of the National Guard of Ukraine (NGU). The exact number of American soldiers who will be stationed at the Yavoriv Training Area outside the western city of Lvov has yet to be determined.
The highly provocative move, which follows the positioning of US and NATO forces in Poland and the Baltic states and escalating threats of a military confrontation with Russia, came as the Kiev government steps up its war against pro-Russian separatists in the Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region.
Lt. Gen. Hodges made his announcement on his first visit to Kiev where he met with the commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Anatoliy Pushnyakov and the acting commander of the NGU Lt. Gen. Oleksandr Kryvyenko. Hodges told reporters after the meeting he was “impressed by the readiness of both military and civil leadership to change and reform.”
Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Vanessa Hillman told Defense News the training mission was part of a State Department effort “to assist Ukraine in strengthening its law enforcement capabilities, conduct internal defense, and maintain rule of law.” The Obama administration has so far committed $19 million from the Global Security Contingency Fund to help build up and train the NGU.