US wastes millions on failed Georgian and Ukrainian armies

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March 31, 2017 – Fort Russ – 

Andrey Polupin, Svobodnaya Pressa – translated by J. Arnoldski –

NATO instructors are preparing Ukrainian troops for a military operation in Donbass. This was announced yesterday by Russia’s permanent representative to NATO, Alexander Grushko.

Commenting on the results of this year’s NATO-Russia Council ambassadorial meeting, Grushko said: “NATO is not putting pressure on the Ukrainian side and has not at all commented on the economic and transport blockade of Donbass by nationalists. NATO continues to provide political and practical support to Kiev. At the Yavoriv training ground near Lvov, and not only there, instructors from several NATO countries continue to train [Ukrainian] security forces who are deployed to the so-called anti-terrorist operation zone.”

Grushko also remarked that the only common ground between Russia and NATO on Ukraine is the understanding that there is no alternative to the Minsk Agreements. “We have drawn attention to just how dangerous are the rampant nationalists encouraged by the Ukrainian authorities. We’ve called on members of the NATO-Russia Council to exert their influence on Kiev so that Ukrainian authorities will completely and unconditionally fulfill the Minsk Agreements,” Russia’s representative said.

But Kiev continues to stick to its guns, and NATO willingly plays along.

That American instructors have been training soldiers of Ukraine’s National Guard became known in April 2015. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko even stated this at the opening ceremony of the Ukrainian-American exercises codenamed “Fearless Guardian 2015”.

Ukrainian troops are trained for combat operations at the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security of Ukraine’s Petr Sahaydych Academy of  Land Forces in the village of Starychi in the Yavoriv district. According to official figures, 300 paratroopers from the US Army’s 173rd brigade have arrived in Lvov for this purpose. 

The intensive training course lasts three semesters, each comprising three weeks. The first to pass through them were around 900 National Guardsmen. Then American instructors took over training the Azov, Kulchitsky, Jaguar, Omega, and other battalions from Kiev, Kharkov, Zaporozhye, Odessa, Lvov, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Vinnitsa.

Reports on US instructors starting work in Ukraine coincided with the news that British advisors are working in Nikolaev. According to the BBC, 35 instructors from the United Kingdom are teaching Ukrainian fighters defensive tactics and emergency medical care.

In addition, according to media reports, military instructors from Poland, Estonia, Finland, Turkey, Norway, Latvia, France, Denmark, Austria, Spain, Albania, Portugal, Croatia, Iceland, Germany, and Slovakia are working in Ukraine. 

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What stands behind Grushko’s recent statement, and does all of this mean that Kiev is preparing for military revenge in Donbass?

According to Vladimir Karyakin, a professor at the Military University of Russia’s Ministry of Defense and a retired air force colonel, the case of Georgia is worth recalling here: “The US has already tried to bring Georgia’s army up to NATO standards. Under the provisions of the agreement on cooperation in the military sphere between Washington and Tbilisi, a large-scale, complex program was launched to provide the Georgian army with comprehensive training. The Pentagon took upon itself not only supplying various weapons and military equipment, but also training the personnel and units of all forms and types making up the republic’s armed forces. The first phases of the plan covering the period of 2002-2004 envisioned basic training for Georgian soldiers, non-commissioned officers, and officers.”

Karyakin described the operation in more detail: “In regards to purely military supplies, Washington immediately gave Tbilisi 10 Iroquois helicopters and 1000 sets of military uniforms in addition to a batch of mine detectors worth $1.6 million. Among American supplies were also two Point patrol boats from a US Coast Guard base manufactured in the 1960’s, M4 automatic rifles (adopted by the Georgian armed forces as the main individual firearms for soldiers in January 2008), and M40 machine guns. 

“The training of the Georgian army, let us note, cost no small amount of money. In 2002-2004, as part of the Georgia Train and Equip Program, the Pentagon spent $64 million on training the personnel of the 1st infantry brigade numbering around 2,5000 men. In 2005-2006, it spent another $100 million on the Georgia Sustainment and Stability Operations Program for training, equipping, and upgrading the 2nd and 3rd infantry brigades. Georgian instructors highly trained by American specialists meanwhile handled the personnel of the 4th and 5th infantry brigades as well as Georgian reservists. 

“In addition, starting in 2002, 60 American instructors from the Army Special Forces and Marines trained the fighters of four battalions and one separate reconnaissance company of Georgie’s armed forces. As was stated, this was a program on fighting terrorism. In the framework of two other programs, Foreign Military Financing (FMA) and International Military Education & Training (IMET), Washington has since 2005 annually allocated Georgia $11.9 million and $1.4 million respectively. 

“And what was the result? When in August 2008 Georgian troops attempted to take control of South Ossetia, it turned out that all that American money was wasted. Georgia’s armed forces failed to complete a single combat task. And this happened because of one elementary reason. You can arm an army with different weapons and dress it up in a new uniform, but this army will pull no weight if its soldiers do not clearly understand what they are fighting for and what they should, if necessary, die for. In my opinion, a similar situation is unfolding with the training of the Ukrainian army.” 

But Ukrainian nationalists are motivated for the war, aren’t they? 

According to Karyakin: “It still ends up being brothers fighting brothers in Donbass. Yes, the nationalists are fighting for their convictions and are quite motivated. But they are in the minority of Ukraine’s armed forces. The overwhelming majority of Ukrainian soldiers and a significant portion of officers are not eager to give their lives for the current Kiev leadership. I think that foreign instructors training Ukrainian servicemen poses no particular threat to Donbass. And the US, one has to presume, will not repeat its extremely expensive experiment with the global modernization of the Ukrainian army. In my opinion, the instructors from NATO countries have a different goal this time: not completely ‘reformatting’ the UAF, but maintaining the morale of Ukrainian troops and their drive for confrontation and revenge in Donbass.” 

Will there by an attempt at taking such revenge? 

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“I believe that all talk about revenge is nothing more than psychological warfare. Yes, Kiev’s revanchist sentiments are de facto supported by Washington. But the example of Georgia has shown that this is not enough for real revenge,” Karyakin concluded. 

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