Ukraine Formally Asks NATO To Send Troops For First Time, Pentagon Mulling

by | May 17, 2024

The continued inevitable and disastrous slide into a WW3 nuclear-armed confrontation between Russian and the West continues as The New York Times reports NATO appears to actually be seriously mulling sending troops to Ukraine to serve in the role as “trainers” at a moment Kiev is desperate to tap and train up new manpower. And this would be closer to front line positions as well.

NATO allies are inching closer to sending troops into Ukraine to train Ukrainian forces, a move that would be another blurring of a previous red line and could draw the United States and Europe more directly into the war,” NY Times wrote Thursday. What has changed? The Zelensky government is now directly requesting it, apparently on a formal level for the first time of the conflict, according to officials.

The Times confirms “Ukrainian officials have asked their American and NATO counterparts to help train 150,000 new recruits closer to the front line for faster deployment.”

The report assures that at this moment anyway, the US is still saying “no”; however chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr has said an eventual deployment of trainers inside Ukraine looks inevitable. “We’ll get there eventually, over time,” he said.

The Joint Chiefs chairman said this while admitting in the next breath that US and NATO trainers positioned in Ukraine would essentially be sitting ducks under the bombs of superior Russian airpower:

For now, he said, an effort inside Ukraine would put ‘a bunch of NATO trainers at risk’ and would most likely mean deciding whether to use precious air defenses to protect the trainers instead of critical Ukrainian infrastructure near the battlefield. General Brown briefed reporters on his plane en route to a NATO meeting in Brussels.

The report was published the same day that Ukraine’s President Zelensky in his nightly address issued a desperate appeal to Western allies saying that “Russia is trying to expand the war” and that “we must force Russia to a real, just peace by all means.”

Earlier in the week Zelensky abruptly announced that he has canceled all scheduled trips abroad as the crisis in Kharkiv is worsening due to Moscow’s expanded cross-border offensive which seeks to push front lines significantly deeper into Ukrainian territory, where the Kremlin wants to see a buffer zone in order to protect its Belgorod region from shelling.

While there have long been indicators (including a leaked Pentagon file) that up to dozens of special forces troops from various Western countries are likely already on the ground in Ukraine, sending NATO trainers would certainly mark a colossal escalation. Already Russian forces have been actively targeting storehouses with Western weapons, and Putin himself has vowed to make West-supplied tanks and equipment “burn.”

NATO is already overseeing a significant Ukrainian troop training program in places like Germany, the UK, Poland, and even in the United States (where pilots are being trained on F-16s in Texas and Phoenix). There had been a training program on Ukrainian soil prior to the Russian invasion of February 2022, however, this was folded up in the days and weeks prior to the war’s start.

The Times quoted Evelyn Farkas, a former top Pentagon official for Ukraine during the Obama administration, to point out: “Remember, when Russia first invaded Crimea in 2014, we sent increased troop numbers into Ukraine to train Ukrainian forces in western Ukraine, and we kept rotating them in all the way to 2022, when we got spooked and withdrew them.”

One location being considered as a “safer” option to establish large troop training operations is the city of Lviv, in Ukraine’s far west near Poland; however, even though it is far from the front lines Russia has still at various time of the war unleashed major ballistic missile strikes on Lviv.

The ball got rolling on this discussion (on a public level at least) with French President Emmanuel Macron raising the idea of Western boots on the ground in Ukraine starting months ago. Since then Lithuania says it stands ready to act and Estonia has just this week also said the small Baltic country is “seriously” considering sending its troops. According to fresh statements:

Estonia has been ‘seriously’ discussing sending troops to Ukraine in roles positioned away from the front lines, per a national security official.

Madis Roll, national security advisor to Estonia’s president, told military news outlet Breaking Defense that his country’s leaders were assessing the viability of sending Estonian soldiers to ‘rear’ roles that wouldn’t see direct combat in Ukraine.

Such a move would help relieve Ukraine’s manpower crunch and allow it to send more soldiers to the front lines.

The Kremlin has repeatedly warned all of this would trigger direct war with NATO if it deploys forces to Ukraine…

Last month, Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur gave a very revealing interview in European media which raised eyebrows and the alarm in Moscow. The defense chief said in the interview with the Austrian newspaper Die Presse that all NATO countries already have NATO personnel stationed in Ukraine, but that they aren’t directly engaged in hostilities as they are there in advisory roles. He was responding to recent provocative statements by France’s Macron. If so this is probably a small number, and he indicated they tend to be attached to embassies.

The reality is that every NATO member country already has military personnel in Ukraine, such as military attaches or people who travel to Ukraine from time to time,” the Estonian defense chief said. “What [French] President [Emmanuel] Macron said mainly related to personnel training,” he added, according to a translation in Russian media. So clearly, the proverbial camel’s nose is already sneaking in under the tent.

As Russia advances in Kharkiv oblast, Zelensky’s appeals will grow more desperate, and pressure within NATO will grow to ‘respond’:

One source has pointed out how Washington tends to operate and what it all means… In asserting that NATO sending troops is “inevitable,” the Times means the decision has already been made, and all that is being awaited is the determination on how best to announce the escalation to the public.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.