U.S. and Ukrainian officials are making plans to expand the training of Ukrainian military forces at a facility located in the western part of the country.
Since April the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade, which is based in Vicenza, Italy, is training six Ukrainian National Guard companies on internal security and territorial defense at the training site, about 28 miles from Lviv, Ukraine. The United Kingdom has also sent 35 military trainers to Ukraine for a two-month deployment. Members of the National Guard, part of the Ministry of Interior, aren’t front-line troops but are in charge of defending supply lines and operating check points.
U.S. officials have also begun planning for a potential expansion of the training, lining up funding and beginning planning for the expansion.
On a visit to the facility, Gen. Ray Odierno, the US Army chief of staff, said he backed Ukrainian plans to expand the capability of the training base to handle larger units.
In early June the US announced its plans to send dozens of tanks, Bradley armored fighting vehicles and self-propelled howitzers to allied countries in the Baltics and Eastern Europe to counter Russia. The equipment, enough to arm one combat brigade, will be positioned in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland to be moved around Europe for training and exercises. NATO is also developing a rapid reaction force that will consist of several thousand soldiers who could be quickly deployed to any hotspot. The Alliance has stepped up its military presence along the Russian border, including in the Baltic States and Eastern Europe. The latest round of NATO military trainings close to Russia was named «Agile Spirit 2015», which began in Georgia on July 8, uniting military personnel from six countries.
One of the biggest series of drills this summer involved at least 49 vessels from 17 countries, with 5,600 troops taking part in the US-led BALTOPS exercises in the Baltic Sea in June. The training operation kicked off from the Polish port of Gdynia on June 5 and ran until June 20.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that the presence of U.S. and British military personnel on the ground in Ukraine, even as trainers, risks escalating the conflict. «Provocateurs in Kiev and those who support the ‘party of war’ might attempt to cook something up in the hopes of inflaming world public opinion, resulting in weapons flowing into Ukraine. We must keep a close eye on this», Lavrov said, according to a translated TV interview provided by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has continuously criticized NATO’s military buildup in the neighboring states, which it said is taking place»under the false pretext of alleged ‘aggressive behavior’ by our country» and is accompanied by»unfriendly and malicious» rhetoric.
«We are not threatening anyone and we seek to resolve all conflict situations through political means, with respect toward international law and other nations’ interests», President Putin stressed in June.
The West believes the pressure on Moscow has not been enough. Training Ukraine military personnel and deploying military equipment are seen as necessary steps to bolster the West’s stand no matter these activities have failed to make Russia change its foreign policy.
The West often accuses Moscow of sticking to the XIX century vision of the world while having stepped on the erroneous way of trying to reach the set goals by military means. It obstinately sticks to obsolete views – the mentality of fossils or a pot calling the kettle black. These are the reasons for making this conclusion.
Today military might does not work as effectively as before. It is an illusion that military actions can accomplish the missions set. Take the recent history from Vietnam War to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Big powers confronting smaller states lose. They suffer losses, their reputation gets damaged and war expenditure becomes a burden too heavy to shoulder. The Vietnam War made the US leave the Bretton Woods system. The war in Algeria put an end to France’s history as colonial power, the Afghan war failed to benefit the Soviet Union while anti-terrorist operations in the Middle East led to the emergence of the greatest threat for the world to face - the Islamic radical movement.
In the period 2001-2014 the global military expenditure grew by 58,5 % up to $ 1,76 trillion.
Nobody has made any gains. NATO accounts for $880 billion. If it goes up according to the plans in question, the expenditure will increase up to $60–90 billion a year. There is a big chance it will all go down the drain. The more exercises are staged and more weapons systems are deployed in the vicinity of Russian border, the more intensively will Russia react with the threat growing for NATO and the West in general. The result will be quite the opposite than expected.
At that Russia has not threatened NATO. A big war in Europe is impossible. Military presence is counterproductive as it provokes retaliatory measures. Suppose each NATO member gets its fair share of the financial burden ($60-90 billion). Then the EU will have to shoulder additionally about $25-40 billion - enough to write off the Ukraine’s external debt in five-six years. In four years the expenditure will be equal to the Marshall Plan (in purchasing power parity). Imagine the effect in case this sum is spent on financial aid to smaller states and economic projects to give an impetus to European economy! What about aiding Greece, a NATO ally and EU member?
British diplomat and thinker Robert Cooper (1) is known for his exposition of the doctrine of «new liberal imperialism», as expressed in his The Post-Modern State (2002). This contains such ideas as the designation of countries as «Failed states», «Modern states» and «Postmodern states» and statements such as «The challenge to the postmodern world is to get used to the idea of double standards». He considered the EU as a postmodern entity which successfully incorporated many states while the US (a modern state) failed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Provoking others in the contemporary world leads to bloodshed and burdens to shoulder making those involved in conflicts weaker than before. Military activities are not a solution to any of the acute problems faced by Europe and the world.
1. Cooper, Robert. The Postmodern State and the World Order, London: Demos, 1998;Cooper, Robert. The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-First Century, London: Atlantic Books, 2003.