WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The active phase of US-Ukraine joint drills Rapid Trident-2017 will start on Monday in Ukraine’s Lviv Region, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
On September 11-23, Ukrainian-US command and staff exercises Rapid Trident-2017 will take place in the International Peacekeeping and Security Center of the Hetman Petro Sahaidachnyi National Army Academy in Starychi, Lviv Region, the ministry said in a statement.
Over 2,500 servicemen from 15 countries are expected to take part in this year’s drills. Rapid Trident-2016 took place in the Lviv Region in June and July last year.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis said on his visit to Kiev on August 24, Ukraine’s Independence Day that the Trump administration was considering sending more lethal weapons to the government of President Petro Poroshenko.
The new exercises and moves towards sending more armaments to the Kiev regime will increase the sufferings of the civilian population in the provinces of Donbass and Lugansk, University of Pittsburgh School of Law lecturer in International Human Rights Professor Daniel Kovalik told Sputnik.
"Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis in the Donbass region of Ukraine continues to worsen, and the US’s dumping of further lethal aid into the conflict will only exacerbate this situation," Kovalik said.
Kovalik said this statement was clearly aimed at Russia as a direct threat.
"I think that this can be interpreted as an escalation of the hostilities between the US and Russia," he said.
Kovalik recalled that the United States has been supporting Ukraine and its military for years. However, the timing of Mattis’ comments were bound to have a negative effect on efforts to improve relations between the two superpowers and to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, he pointed out.
"That Mattis would appear with Poroshenko to announce the possible delivery of lethal weapons to Ukraine at this moment – a moment in which the US and Russia are engaged in a diplomatic war and just after the US has imposed new sanctions against Russia – can only be taken as a direct threat against Russia itself," Kovalik said.
Mattis’ comments, like the sanctions against Russia imposed by the US Congress in July were timed to undermine and destroy President Donald Trump’s efforts to improve relations with Moscow, Kovalik stated.
"This is all quite regrettable given that Trump and Putin had agreed very recently at the G-20 Summit to work together to find a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis. This spirit of cooperation was fatally undermined very soon after – and clearly intentionally — by the US Congress’s imposition of sanctions against Russia soon thereafter," he said.
Any supply of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine would have no relevance in the Kiev regimes conflict with its two secessionist provinces, Kovalik pointed out.
"While the US has spoken about sending Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, this is quite a curious suggestion… Such missiles would not be particularly useful given the current nature of the military conflict between the Ukraine government and the Donbass separatists," he said.
Therefore supply Javelins to Ukraine would be widely taken as a signal that the Trump administration was stepping up its hostility to Russia, Kovalik explained.
"All of this points to a greater deepening of the new Cold War between the US and Russia which is dangerously close to becoming a hot war," he said.
Trump and his secretary of state Rex Tillerson needed to take action to restore trust and regular relations with Russia, Kovalik urged.
"What we need is more diplomacy between Washington and Moscow, and less of this chest-beating and saber-rattling," he advised.
Warmongers in Washington had successfully grabbed control of policy in Russia from Trump and were seeking to deepen sources of potential conflict between the two nations, noted political commentator, philosopher and University of Louvain Professor Jean Bricmont told Sputnik.
"The militaristic branch for the US, now in command since [White House counselor Steve] Bannon’s departure, wants to keep the situation as it is, since it keeps the Russian’s feet under the fire," Bricmont said.
The Washington hawks could not directly act to seize territories such as Crimea and the eastern provinces of Ukraine that had seceded from Kiev after the violent 2014 Maidan Revolution but they were determined to still sour superpower relations, Bricmont observed.
"Of course, they cannot reverse the situation short of a world war but they can let things rot so to speak. It is a criminal policy but that is the same policy as the one followed in Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Syria and many other places," he said.
The current deadlock between Washington and Moscow was therefore likely to continue for the foreseeable future, Bricmont predicted.
President Vladimir Putin this week launched a new initiative to have United Nations peacekeepers deployed in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.