American military trainers are now on the ground in Ukraine, and Russia is not happy about it. The LA Times reports:
Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday called the arrival of U.S. military trainers in western Ukraine a “provocation” and warned Ukrainians that they should rethink the consequences of hosting Western forces.“U.S.-Ukrainian military drills in the western Ukrainian Lviv region threaten Russia’s security,” ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement carried by the official Tass news agency. […]Russian officials and state-run news media sounded alarms over the arrival of the trainers, an element of U.S. defense aid the Pentagon announced early this year. As many as 300 American troops are to be sent to the Lviv region on Ukraine’s western border to train Ukrainian soldiers.
For all Russia’s hemming and hawing, it’s important to keep in mind that a handful of military trainers, while maybe somewhat helpful to Kiev’s military efforts, is almost literally the least we could do. And the Kremlin hasn’t exactly been holding back from doing what it wants in Ukrainian territory out of respect for the West’s reserved actions, so its threats of “consequences” as a result of the arrival of the military trainers ring hollow.What we’re still waiting for is a Western strategy for this crisis in Ukraine, and for dealing with Russia’s greater revisionist agenda. The discussion over arming Ukraine still conspicuously lacks any discussion of whether more weapons would really make a difference for the Ukrainian army. The ultimate competition is likely to play out economically, not on the battlefield, and in that regard both Ukraine and Russia are likely to be losers.