Ukraine Grants Foreign Troops Right to Enter Country Ahead of G7 Summit

US and Ukrainian soldiers

On the eve of the G7 summit in Germany, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted a range of controversial amendments to an existing law that would allow foreign forces to enter the country – a decision which could potentially threaten the already fragile situation in Donbass
 

It could be that Kiev is simply trying to expand its cooperation with the EU and NATO in the hopes of securing an invite to become a fully-fledged member. However, the timing – right on the eve of the G7 Summit and amid renewed clashes in the Donbass region – is somewhat suspect.That, in turn, undermines hopes for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Donbass where fighting has recently broken out again near the city of Marinka. In this situation, deployment of foreign troops in Donbass could possibly aggravate the crisis and lead to a new escalation in violence.

The adopted amendment would widen the basis for allowing foreign troops to enter the country. Particularly, foreign military forces can be deployed by “Ukraine’s demand for conducting an international peacekeeping operation on its territory after UN or EU authorization.”

At the same time, the law prohibits deploying troops by a country which is designated as an “aggressor state” by the Ukrainian government.

 

According to the explanatory notes, the deployment of foreign troops “would help as soon as possible normalize the situation and restore law and order in Donetsk and Lugansk Regions as well as constitutional rights of their residents.”The idea to deploy foreign military forces in Ukraine has been avidly discussed since mid-April. For instance, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has called for sending UK peacekeepers and a UN mission to the war-ridden Donbass Region.

It was also reported the issue was discussed during a phone talks between “Normandy four” leaders (Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine) on April 30.

At the time, the official website of the Ukrainian leader reported that “Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on the possibility to send peacekeeping forces to Donbass to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.” However, Moscow dismissed the allegations saying that a peacekeeping mission requires authorization by both parties to the conflict – Kiev and the self-proclaimed Donbass republics.

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UK Rules Out Combat Troops in Ukraine Amid Warnings Against Mission Creep

British troops

Britain has ruled out deploying combat troops to Ukraine, a day after it said it was sending 75 military advisers and trainers to help the Ukrainian army, but was under pressure from many politicians against ‘mission creep’.

Speaking in the House of Commons, UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the training mission, which will begin in mid-March, was “closely defined” and was being undertaken at the request of the Ukrainian government.

He said: “We are not deploying combat troops to Ukraine and will not do so,” when asked whether the deployment of military personnel would provoke so-called “mission creep”.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has confirmed that the UK will send up to 75 military personnel to Ukraine within the next month to help train local Ukrainian forces.

“Over the course of the next month we are going to be deploying British service personnel to provide advice and a range of training, from tactical intelligence to logistics to medical care, which is something else they have asked for,” Cameron said.

“We will also be developing an infantry training programme with Ukraine to improve the durability of their forces. This will involve a number of British service personnel, they will be away from the area of conflict but I think this is the sort of thing we should be helping with,” he said.

Britain Does not Rule Out Further Equipment for Ukraine

Fallon said British personnel would conduct the training in Kiev and western Ukraine. But he admitted Britain was considering a Ukrainian request for equipment and supplies, but had no plans to provide “lethal” assistance to Kiev.

However, during a heated debate in Westminster, veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner said:

“Mission creep knows no boundaries. Vietnam started with just a little request. As sure as night follows day, Ukraine will realise the UK is a participant in the battle and ask for more. What’s he going to do then?”

Fallon said: “We are considering a further request for additional equipment and support. That is non-lethal, but we do reserve the right to keep that under review.”

Senior Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh, warned the Defence Secretary: “The trouble with sending advisers is that, as the Americans found in Vietnam, and as many other nations have found since, mission creep eventually results in the sending of combat troops. Given that Ukraine is an area the size of France, where whole German armies of tens of thousands of men were enveloped and destroyed in the Second World War, is there not a real danger of that?”

Fallon admitted that the UK had been advising the Ukraine government for some time on military tactics. “We already provide advice and support on how to tackle corruption inside the Ukrainian Government. We have done so over the past few months and, indeed, I think even before then.

“As for mission creep, may I make it absolutely clear that we are not deploying combat troops to Ukraine, and we will not do so. We are providing non-lethal assistance that has been requested by the Ukrainian Government to enhance the capability of their armed forces and to attempt to reduce the number of fatalities and casualties that they have suffered.”

Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox urged Fallon to offer the Ukrainian Government military hardware, saying: “They require equipment such as unmanned aerial vehicles for reconnaissance and targeting. They require anti-tank capability and encrypted communications.”

Fallon replied: “We are supplying defensive equipment. It might not be lethal, but it does help the Ukrainian armed forces better defend themselves. As I said in my initial statement, in addition to the secondment of 75 trainers we are considering a further request from the Ukrainian Government for additional equipment and support.”

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/military/20150225/1018745762.html#ixzz3SpoZ0mc3

Russian defense minister tells others to mind their own business

February 24 – Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu advised those who are much interested in the position of Russian troops in the country to mind their own business.
“When someone is speaking and saying our troops are at a wrong place on the territory of our country, I want to say that it is up to our supreme commander-in-chief, up to our country to decide. We don’t meddle with your business, so why do you meddle with ours?” Shoigu said on Channel One.
The minister commented on recent inspections conducted by foreign military in Russia. Shoigu stressed that the inspectors should speak out about the results of their inspections.
Three foreign military inspections have been carried out in Russia’s southern regions bordering Ukraine since the beginning of the year. The inspections were conducted by Ukrainian, Turkish and Dutch military experts.

"Russian defense minister tells others to mind their own business

February 24 -  Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu advised those who are much interested in the position of Russian troops in the country to mind their own business.
"When someone is speaking and saying our troops are at a wrong place on the territory of our country, I want to say that it is up to our supreme commander-in-chief, up to our country to decide. We don’t meddle with your business, so why do you meddle with ours?" Shoigu said on Channel One.
The minister commented on recent inspections conducted by foreign military in Russia. Shoigu stressed that the inspectors should speak out about the results of their inspections.
Three foreign military inspections have been carried out in Russia's southern regions bordering Ukraine since the beginning of the year. The inspections were conducted by Ukrainian, Turkish and Dutch military experts."

Dutch Experts Detect No Russian Military Activities in Rostov Region

Dutch Experts Detect No Russian Military Activities in Rostov Region

The head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s treaty control department said that the Dutch inspection group had found no military activities in the designated area that the Russian Federation should notify the OSCE under international obligations.

 

MOSCOW, February 20 (Sputnik) — The inspection by Dutch military specialists revealed no military activities on the part of Russia in the Rostov region bordering Ukraine, the head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s International Treaties Implementation Department told RIA Novosti on Friday.”After the check, the Dutch inspection group’s head said there were no military activities in the designated area that the Russian Federation should notify the OSCE under international obligations,” Sergei Ryzhkov said.

Dutch military experts inspected 13,000 square kilometers (5,000 square miles) in Russia’s Rostov Region bordering Ukraine, Sergei Ryzhkov added.

“The inspection took place in accordance with the Vienna Document and was carried out not only on the ground, but also with the help of helicopters,” Sergei Ryzhkov said.

Dutch Military Inspect Same Area as Ukrainian Experts

 

Dutch military inspected the same area in the Rostov Region bordering Ukraine that Ukrainian specialists chose for inspection earlier, the head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s treaty control department said Friday.”It is important to point out that the area of inspection was for the most part the same zone Ukrainian specialists chose for inspection a week earlier,” Sergei Ryzhkov said.

The Dutch military representatives held inspections in the Rostov Region between February 17 and 20. The inspections are held in accordance with the 2011 Vienna Document, stipulating measures of confidence-building and security.

 

The treaty control department said the inspection by the Dutch delegation would be the last check of the Russian territory by foreign military for 2015.Kiev authorities and a number of western countries have accused Russia or providing military aid and troops to Donbas militias. Moscow has dismissed the allegations and denied any involvement in the armed conflict in Ukraine.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/military/20150220/1018509984.html#ixzz3SH5KwMEk

Donetsk Ready to Release Encircled Kiev Troops if They Lay Down Arms

A military boot is seen at the road near Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine, February 17, 2015

The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic militia is offering a way out for Kiev troops encircled in Debaltseve on the condition they lay down arms.

DONETSK (Sputnik) – Militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) is ready to let encircled Kiev troops leave Debaltseve without weapons, a DPR deputy military commander said Tuesday.

“Once again, we reiterate our proposal to Ukrainian troops to safely walk out of the Debaltseve encirclement if they leave their weapons behind,” Eduard Basurin told reporters.

Several thousand Ukrainian soldiers have been encircled in the government-controlled Debaltsevo, a strategic transport hub in eastern Ukraine.

 

The peace deal between Kiev forces and independence supporters, which was agreed upon in Belarus by the leaders of Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia last week, outlines measures to deescalate the conflict in Donbas.The ceasefire between warring sides, which is the key provision, became effective on February 15.

On February 14, DPR head Alexander Zakharchenko, said that the militia would cease fire everywhere except for the inner areas of the Debaltsevo territory under their control and all attempts by Kiev soldiers to leave the Debaltsevo encirclement would be halted.

The heads of Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia stressed later in a phone conversation that the ceasefire must cover the whole Donbas region, including Debaltsevo.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150217/1018381644.html#ixzz3S4qtcZSB

US to Send More Troops to Joint Drills With Seoul, Pyongyang Fears Invasion

Osan U.S. Air Base in Osan

The annual military exercises are likely to contribute to escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, with Pyongyang accusing Washington and Seoul of rehearsing an invasion into the country.

 

MOSCOW, February 16 (Sputnik) — The United States is expected to send more troops to the annual joint military drills with South Korea, scheduled for March, South Korean Defense Ministry said Monday.The annual military exercises are likely to contribute to escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, with Pyongyang accusing Washington and Seoul of rehearsing an invasion into the country.

“As for the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises, the total number of the US service members will be slightly larger than the previous year,” the defense ministry spokesman said as quoted by Yonhap news agency. However, the spokesman did not specify the exact number of troops to be involved.

In 2014, the Unites States sent 5,200 troops for a two-week Key Resolve drills with South Korea, and about 7,500 US forces were part of Foal Eagle exercise. For South Korea, this figure reached 10,000 troops for Key Resolve and 200,000 for Foal Eagle.

Although North Korea accuses the US and South Korea of rehearsing an aggression, Washington and Seoul claim the nature of the exercises is purely defensive.

North Korea has already carried out two test-fires of missiles in 2015. Last week, the country successfully launched five anti-ship rockets into the Sea of Japan, which is seen as a show of strength ahead of the US-South Korean joint drills.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/asia/20150216/1018322445.html#ixzz3RtW9sXo8

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Forever War? Future Pentagon Chief Considers Leaving Troops in Afghanistan

A US soldier at the site of a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan.

US Defense Secretary nominee Ashton Carter says if security conditions continue to go downhill in Afghanistan, he would consider reversing the Obama administration’s current plans to withdraw most of US troops from the region.

Carter responded to a 91-page questionnaire the Senate Armed Services Committee gave him before his confirmation hearings start on Wednesday, answering “yes” to whether he would consider changing the troop drawdown plan. Islamic State militants are reportedly trying to expand their presence in Afghanistan, and Carter told the Senate committee that he would work to make sure that didn’t happen – including changing the number of troops that leave, if at all.

US troops have been in Afghanistan since October 2001, reaching a high of 32,000. President Obama last summer announced that he would reduce the U.S. military presence by the end of 2015 and keep about 10,000 troops in the region to train Afghan forces and to work on counterterrorism. There would be a further reduction by the end of next year, with fewer than 1,000 remaining to staff a security office in the capital city of Kabul.

 

Republican legislators have criticized the planned reduction, saying Obama was acting in a haphazard way. “The President’s decision to set an arbitrary date for the full withdrawal of US troops in Afghanistan is a monumental mistake and a triumph of politics over strategy. This is a short-sighted decision that will make it harder to end the war in Afghanistan responsibly,” said Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), who earlier this month became the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “It will embolden our enemies and discourage our partners in Afghanistan and the region.”

McCain will lead Wednesday’s hearing on Carter’s nomination, and the topic of troop withdrawal is expected to be front and center.

Some 2,181 members of the US military have been killed in Afghanistan during the 13 years of the Afghan conflict. Even with a US troop withdrawal, NATO will still have an Afghan presence – about 12,000, including some US soldiers attached to NATO in Afghanistan.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/news/20150203/1017718765.html#ixzz3QmZK16J5

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