The U.S. has deployed 300 troops to Ukraine with the goal of training troops currently fighting Russian separatists in the eastern region of the country. The decision to send troops is further proof the fighting in Ukraine has much wider implications than just a civil war.
Although involvement on either side has so far been kept minimal, despite accusations of Russian involvement and aggression, the U.S.’s troop deployment solidifies the conflict’s status as an essential proxy war between the U.S. and Russia.
In response to the recent military move, Russia has accused the U.S. of wanting to “reshape the world to fit its needs.” According to Al Jazeera, chief of the general staff of Russian armed forces General Valery Gerasimov had the following to say: “Aiming at complete dominance, Washington stopped taking into account the interests of other countries and respect international law.”
Russia is clearly trying to frame the U.S. as the aggressors in the conflict. According to the BBC, Russian President Vladimir Putin recently stated, bluntly, “there are no Russian troops in Ukraine.”
In Washington, the blame has been the exact opposite. The U.S. has consistently accused Russia of arming separatists in Ukraine. According to The Washington Times, Secretary of State John Kerry outright claimed that Russians have been lying about their military action in Ukraine.
“Russia has engaged in a rather remarkable period of the most overt and extensive propaganda exercise that I’ve seen since the very height of the Cold War,” Kerry said. “And they have been persisting in their misrepresentations — lies — whatever you want to call them — about their activities to my face, to the face of others, on many different occasions.”
At least the U.S. is being transparent about its involvement in the conflict. The U.S. Army announced it will be sending paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne brigade to conduct training in Yavoriv over the next six months. According to Yahoo News, the U.S. troops will be training the National Guard of Ukraine, a reservist group formed in 2014.
“We will be conducting classes on war-fighting functions, as well as training to sustain and increase the professionalism and proficiency of military staffs,” said Maj. Jose Mendez in a statement.
A cease-fire agreement was signed between Ukrainian troops and the Russian separatists in February, but fighting has reportedly continued in the contested areas. According to RT, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed the arrival of U.S. troops “does not help in settling the conflict and producing an environment beneficial for it.”
“On the contrary,” Peskov said, “it destabilizes the situations.” Whether or not the U.S. or Russia is correct regarding which nation has been the aggressor in the situation, the U.S.’s involvement clearly demonstrates that the war has become more serious.
The United Nations already estimates the death toll at roughly 6,000. Although the U.S. is not becoming directly involved, their presence in Ukraine will only escalate the conflict and hurt the already-tarnished relations between the U.S. and Russia.
Image Source: U.S. Army