Nearly 300 U.S. soldiers have arrived in Ukraine to act as 'trainers' for the county's newly-formed National Guard as part of what is being called Operation Fearless Guardian.
The operation involving paratroopers will last for six months, according to a statement by the U.S. Army on Friday.
U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt tweeted the development:
— Geoffrey Pyatt (@GeoffPyatt) April 17, 2015
Canada is also taking part in the operation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a statement Friday rebuking the troops' arrival.
"The participation of instructors and specialists from a third country on the territory of Ukraine, where an unresolved intra-Ukrainian conflict remains, where problems persist in carrying out the Minsk agreement, is far from helping resolve the conflict. To the contrary, it enables destabilizing the situation," spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated.
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The Kremlin isn't alone in criticizing the operation, as the Ottawa Citizen reported this week:
But some foreign affairs experts say the decision to send Canadian, British and U.S. training troops to Ukraine could worsen matters with nuclear-armed Russia.
"Canada’s decision is not only provocative to Russia but it’s dangerous," said retired Canadian diplomat James Bissett. "We are poking at them unnecessarily."
And Columnist and author Eric Margolis wrote earlier this year that the sending of the purported trainers was part of "the march to folly in Ukraine":
The US soldiers will just be for training, and the number of GI’s will be modest, claim US military sources. Of course. Just like those small numbers of American "advisors" and "trainers" in Vietnam that eventually grew to 550,000. Just as there are now US special forces in over 100 countries. We call it "mission creep."
The UN Human Rights Office and the World Health Organization estimate that over 6,100 people have been killed and over 15,000 wounded in the conflict since April 2014.
The UN Human Rights Office warned in a press statement Friday of a worsening humanitarian situation for those in eastern Ukraine, adding that "civilians continue to suffer seriously."