US prepares military drill in W. Ukraine for mid-September

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The Ukrainian-American exercises have taken place in Lvov since 2006 under the framework of NATO’s broader ‘Partnership for Peace,’ which Ukraine is part of.

This year’s drill will mean the first significant deployment of US troops and other personnel to Ukraine since the crisis erupted.

Last year’s Rapid Trident, which focused on “airborne and air-mobile infantry operations,” according to a report on the Rapid Trident website, brought together 17 NATO countries for joint exercises.

The announcement comes just two days before the NATO 2014 summit is set to open in Wales. The alliance’s expansion to Eastern Europe is expected to become one of the main discussions and the 28-member bloc expects, despite internal opposition, to agree on the “more visible NATO presence in the East.”

The White House said the US and its allies are set to discuss plans to significantly increase the readiness of NATO response forces.

Paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team participate in training exercises with the Polish 6 Airborne Brigade soldiers at the Land Forces Training Centre in Oleszno near Drawsko Pomorskie, north west Poland, May 1, 2014. (Reuters / Kacper Pempel)

The US and its allies are preparing to stage a military exercise in western Ukraine, close to the Polish border, in mid-September. The joint drill will involve over 1,000 troops from the US and Europe, as well as from Ukraine.

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Initially planned for mid-July, the exercise – code-named ‘Rapid Trident’ – was halted due to a significant escalation in the conflict between Kiev and the southeastern regions of Ukraine.

Now, as the fighting between the two sides continues, the US Army’s European Command (EUCOM) plans to go ahead and stage the exercise on September 16-26.

“At the moment, we are still planning for [the exercise] to go ahead,” US Navy Captain Gregory Hicks, spokesman for EUCOM, announced on Tuesday.

The annual exercise will take place at Yavoriv training center in the city of Lvov, near Ukraine’s border with Poland.

Around 200 US personnel will be involved in the …read more