US intelligence warns that Russia has not abandoned its plans to invade eastern Ukraine. The warning was made public on Fox TV by chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the US House of Representatives Mike Rogers. “We see tens of thousands of soldiers. They have special forces troops, heavy artillery, infantry – all that is needed to invade Ukraine if they so choose. In my opinion, they will continue to exert pressure, they are keeping up their propaganda campaign in eastern Ukraine to pave the way for takeover of the eastern regions,” Rogers said.
The Verkhovna Rada decision from April 1 was a response of sorts to the maneuvers of Russian troops near the eastern borders of Ukraine. The parliament passed a law allowing for multinational military exercises to be held on Ukrainian soil. “It is proposed to set the number of Ukrainian participants in the exercises at 2,500, with equal number coming from other partner states. The exercises aim to prepare troops for participation in international peace and security support operations, humanitarian and search operations on land and water, as well as defense of Ukraine,” acting defense minister Mykhailo Koval told the assembled house.
The law deals with “the Ukrainian-Polish air force squadron-level exercise, Ukrainian-Polish military police exercise ‘Law and Order-2014,’ Ukrainian-American exercise ‘Rapid Trident-2014,’ Ukrainian-Polish air force exercise ‘Safe Skies 2014,’ Ukrainian-American exercise ‘Sea Breeze-2014,’ multinational exercise ‘Bright Avalanche-2014,’ multinational mountain infantry exercise ‘Carpathians-2014,’ and Ukrainian-Moldovan-Romanian mechanized forces exercise ‘South- 2014.’”
“Firstly, the exercises will be a stabilizing factor,” director of military programs at the Razumkov Center Mykola Sunhurovsky said in his comment for The Day. “Presence of foreign troops on Ukrainian territory can theoretically deter the aggressor. Secondly, it may have some impact on improving training of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Thirdly, there is a practice where countries involved in exercises on foreign soil, in this case in Ukraine, leave their equipment as a gift or assistance to the host country. What scenarios will be used at individual exercises is unclear, as it depends on mutual agreements.”
US intelligence expressed once again its serious concern regarding the presence of Russian troops on the Ukrainian-Russian border. What is your take on it?
“Americans made such a statement based on the fact that Russian troops are stationed near the borders of Ukraine. These troops are moving both into Russia’s inner regions and along our borders. This can be done not so much to prepare for an invasion, but rather as a distraction in order to stretch the Ukrainian troops along the defensive lines and weaken the defenses at some selected points. At the moment, our troops lack strength to deter aggression along the entire length of the border, so the government is deploying the National Guard. I believe that the invasion as such will not happen for the time being, but we should expect infiltration of commando teams from the Russian side into Ukraine and destabilization of the situation in some regions.”