“I am quite confident that the reportedly 600 US military trainers sent to Lviv [Ukraine] to work with the Ukrainian National Guard units will help them individually and institutionally to achieve a higher level of professionalization and operational effectiveness,” Director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Dr. Andrew C. Kuchins, told Sputnik on Thursday.
The US National Guard training program is at an embryonic stage, Wilson Center scholar Michael Kofman, Kennan Institute, told Sputnik, and is focused on raising the operational standards of a few key units.
Eurasia analyst for global intelligence firm Stratfor Eugene Chausovsky, sees the National Guard program, despite the number of troops involved, as important because it is yet another initiative that could affect Russia’s perception of US intentions.
“Things like training the Ukrainian National Guard, things like providing security assistance to Ukraine, even the plan for the US and NATO to open up a rapid reaction forces and bases in Eastern European countries, this is going to drive the overall negotiations process between Russia and the West,” Chausovsky said.
On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution to authorize $1 billion for training, equipping, and providing lethal aid to Ukraine through September 2017, a move that Russia and some European countries, including France, Germany and Norway are opposed to.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande met in the Belorussian capital of Minsk for almost 15 hours, and agreed on a declaration that contains practical measures to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
In particular, the document calls for a ceasefire starting on February 15, prisoner swaps, withdrawal of weaponry and Ukrainian constitutional reforms.