‘Dangerous process’: Russia warns against US, NATO military instructors in Ukraine

Reuters/Gleb Garanich
A top Russian diplomat has promised that his country would push for removal of all foreign military specialists and illegal paramilitary groups from Ukrainian territory after US confirmed its plans to send about 300 instructors to train pro-Kiev troops.

Moscow is urging the removal of all foreign military formations from Ukraine, including the instructors from the United States and NATO, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said in an interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily.

We know that hundreds of US and NATO servicemen are planning to come to Ukraine to train the National Guard. The training camps are being set up not only in western Ukraine, but also in other parts of the country. This is a dangerous process. We would push for all foreign and illegal military units to be removed from Ukraine,” Karasin said.

In mid-March, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren told the media that about 290 servicemen of the 173 Airborne Brigade will arrive to western Ukraine in late April to train three battalions of the Ukrainian National Guard. The planned location of the exercises was disclosed as the Yavoriv army training center near Lvov.

On Wednesday, Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk promised that his government would sign a number of agreements with NATO concerning military-technical cooperation. These would include a memorandum on communications and intelligence that would pave the way to Ukraine’s deeper participation in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.

READ MORE: ‘Provocation against Russia’ – MPs blast fresh US Congress call to arm Ukraine

Russia has previously denounced the increasing buildup of NATO forces in Eastern Europe as well as US plans to supply weapons and non-lethal military equipment to Ukraine. The criticism became especially sharp when the House of Representatives in Washington passed a non-binding resolution calling on President Barack Obama to send lethal weapons to Ukraine, despite the ceasefire agreement between pro-Kiev forces and federalists in the east of the country.

Several Russian lawmakers have called the US Congress’ call to send “lethal aid” to Ukraine a threat to the peace process and a direct provocation aimed at Russia.

The head of the State Duma Foreign Relations Committee, Aleksey Pushkov, said in comments to the media that if the US president gave in to the pressure from Congress this would put an end to his reputation as “the president of peace” and make him equal to such politicians as George W. Bush, John McCain or Mitt Romney.