US Army Command delegation to arrive in Kiev this week
“This week, a delegation from the US Army Command, headed by Commander of US Army Europe, Lt. Gen [Frederick Ben] Hodges, will arrive in Ukraine,” Vladislav Seleznyov, spokesman for Ukraine’s General Staff of Armed Forces, said at a media briefing in Kiev on Monday.
The spokesman also said that Ukraine will take part in the NATO Military Committee conference on January 20-22.
The get-together will be dedicated to the issues of military cooperation between Ukraine and NATO as well as plans to reform the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the evaluation of the situation in south-eastern Ukraine, he said.
Previously, the Society of Assistance to Defense of Ukraine announced that it has already began training military specialists in line with NATO programs.
“At our military centers, about 100 people per week are being prepared in line with the accelerated NATO weekly program in military professions such as gunner, machine gunner and others,” Yury Chizhmar, the Society’s head, said, as cited by TASS news agency.
The fighting intensified in south-eastern Ukraine on Sunday as Kiev forces launched large-scale offensive, reportedly involving Grad multiple rocket launchers and aviation, against the militia in the Donetsk region.
According to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic count, at least nine civilians were killed and 44 injured in as the city endured some 50 artillery strikes from the Ukrainian military on Sunday.
There were also human casualties and destruction in the nearby towns of Makeevka and Gorlovka.
Earlier, in a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry urged Kiev to take steps to pull its heavy weapons out of Eastern Ukraine, saying that their militia opponents had already signed a roadmap for it.
An arms pullout is a key point in the so-called Minsk agreement, a roadmap to deescalating the situation. However it was never fully implemented after the Russia and OSCE-brokered deal between the government in Kiev and their opponents was penned in September 2014.
“If Kiev truly prepared to pull back heavy weapons as would the militia do… this should lead to practical steps on the ground, especially considering that the leaders of [the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics] have already signed a roadmap for it,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday.
The Ukrainian military launched the operation in the country’s southeast last April, after the Donetsk and Lugansk regions became the site of a rebel movement refusing to recognize the new, coup-imposed authorities in Kiev.
The death toll in the Ukrainian conflict has exceeded 4,800. Over 10,000 have been injured, according to UN estimations.