US govt issues logistics support tender for 300 military personnel in Ukraine

Reuters / Sgt. Stephen A. Gober
The US is planning to send about 300 military personnel to Ukraine from March to October to train the Ukrainian army, according to a tender on a US government website that requires logistics for the troops.

The US government has published a tender, saying it’s hiring services for the movement of equipment and approximately 300 US personnel in Ukraine, according to the Federal Business Opportunities website.

The contractor shall provide all equipment, vehicles, and personnel necessary to provide ground transportation in accordance with the ordering clause,” the tender states.

Transportation will be required from 5 March until 31 October for about three return trips from Lvov International Airport to the International Peace Keeping and Security Center (IPSC) in Yavoriv.

READ MORE: US military to train Kiev troops fighting in E. Ukraine – US Army commander

In February, Washington confirmed it will send troops to Ukraine to train Kiev troops fighting against the militias in eastern Ukraine.

“We’ll train them in security tasks, medical [tasks], how to operate in an environment where the Russians are jamming [communications] and how to protect [themselves] from Russian and rebel artillery," US Army Europe Commander Ben Hodges was cited as saying by Reuters on February 11.

The Ukrainian government requested the training as "they work to reform their police forces and establish their newly formed National Guard," Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Vanessa Hillman told Defense News in January.

Funding for the mission was requested by the President Barack Obama administration in the fiscal 2015 budget and comes from the congressionally authorized Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF). The US is reportedly ready to spend $19 million to put the Ukrainian National Guard through its paces.

READ MORE: Cameron commits troops & ‘non-lethal aid’ to Ukraine

The UK has followed the US and is planning to send up to 75 British military personnel in March. They will offer medical, intelligence, logistics and infantry training to the Ukrainian army.

Prime Minister David Cameron said in February that UK support would be given “well away from the area of conflict,” adding that the purpose of aid would be to improve Ukraine’s tactical advantage.

Poland voiced support by saying that Warsaw will send military advisers to Ukraine.

"The defense ministry intends to send Polish instructors to support the training of Ukrainian non-commissioned officers," Defense Ministry adviser Boguslaw Pacek told Reuters in February.

The Yavoriv operations site, near the Polish-Ukrainian border, is the largest military firing range in Europe, covering 40,000 square kilometers. The last international military exercises in the Lvov region took place in September 2014. About 1,300 servicemen from 15 countries, including the US, Canada, Germany and the UK participated.

READ MORE: US partly to blame for Ukraine’s use of cluster bombs – McCain

Despite the Minsk-2 peace agreement brokered on February 12, Washington is still mulling over sending weapons to Ukraine.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said in February that supplying weapons would “escalate the whole situation” in eastern Ukraine and “would be a major blow to the Minsk agreements.”

British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon previously warned that supplying weapons to Ukraine would worsen the conflict, Reuters reported in February.

READ MORE: US arming Kiev would ‘explode’ situation in E. Ukraine – Russian Foreign Ministry

The White House has also admitted that possible military assistance from the US to Ukraine could increase violence.

“Providing additional military assistance could and is likely to have the effect of increasing the bloodshed,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on February 5.

The head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, said the US is already supplying Kiev with ammunition and weapons on a “large-scale basis.”

Meanwhile, former US diplomat James Jatras, told RT: “This discussion in Washington about supplying weapons has been going on for some time. Usually that indicates that some kind of a covert program is already in operation and that we already are supplying some weapons directly.”

Commenting on a statement recently made by Poroshenko that the weapons are not intended for offensive use, Jatras said: “The notion that there are offensive and defensive weapons is really absurd here,” and that supplying the weapons is “clearly designed to give Kiev some kind of military option that Kiev does not currently have, and of course it has an offensive intent behind it.”