US veterans train Ukrainian soldiers despite warnings – New York Times
Former special-ops soldiers are reportedly on the frontlines in Ukraine teaching Kiev’s forces
According to the New York Times, several US veterans were allegedly training Ukrainian soldiers at the frontlines in the Russia-Ukraine conflict despite being warned by the Pentagon not to, according to an article published Sunday by the New York Times.
“Americans are in Ukraine,”The outlet states that it’s not clear how many US citizens are currently fighting at the frontlines of conflict. According to the NYT, some Americans have also volunteered for bomb disposal teams or as logistics specialists and instructors.
The NYT also claims that there are currently small teams of former special operations members providing training to Ukrainian soldiers and, in some cases, helping Kiev’s forces plan combat missions.
The US has committed nearly $7 billion to Ukraine’s security, but has not yet directly intervened in the conflict. The US officially expelled its 150 Ukrainian military officers shortly before conflict began in February. President Joe Biden stated that. “we will not fight the third world war in Ukraine.”
The Pentagon denies any US affiliation to any volunteer group and repeatedly warns Americans against going to Ukraine in order to participate in the conflict.
Perry Blackburn Jr., a retired Army Special Forces lieutenant colonel, who is one of the volunteers currently providing training to soldiers in Ukraine, confirmed to the NYT that his unit does not receive any communications from the US military and that Washington is unlikely to take any responsibility for the unit’s actions.
“We have no communication with the U.S. military, period,”He told the outlet. “That’s a line they don’t want to cross. They won’t take responsibility for our well being or actions. In fact, they’d probably do just the opposite.”
Nevertheless, some of the veterans see their mission in Ukraine as a way to further America’s interests while insulating Washington from direct involvement.
“We are executing U.S. foreign policy in a way the military can’t,”Andrew Milburn (retired Marine Corps Special Operations Colel) leads a volunteer group that provides advice and training to veterans.
“I’m plausible deniability,”He told the NYT. “We can do the work, and the U.S. can say they have nothing to do with us, and that is absolutely true.”Milburn pointed out that every time he tried to contact American military personnel in Western Europe, Milburn received no response.
“Every time we reach out, we get rebuffed,”He said. “They are so afraid that something bad is going to happen and it will look like it was the purview of the government. We are persona non grata.”
The NYT reports that experts warn that American volunteers may trigger an attack. “tragic mishap that entangles the United States in a Vietnam-style escalation.”
“Just as in Vietnam, the risk is that we get inadvertently drawn deeper and deeper in, one small step at a time,” George Beebe, a former chief of the CIA’s Russia analysis, told the NYT. “The difference is the stakes are higher in Ukraine. It would be much easier for the United States and Russia to get into a direct conflict that could quickly turn very serious.”
According to the NYT at least 21 Americans were wounded during combat since the start of the conflict, according to a non-profit organization which evacuates them. Two US citizens were killed in combat, the State Department reported. Three others were captured, and another one was reportedly lost in action.