The somewhat forgotten conflict in Ukraine hasn’t gone away and in fact, may be heating up again. With the United States announcing that they are moving away from the counter-terror focus to the older style of conventional conflict with large adversaries such as Russia and China, brings recent developments in Ukraine into larger focus.

Back in February, the Deputy Chief of Ukraine’s Defense Planning, Colonel Viacheslav Demianenko stated that Ukraine’s armed forces were going thru a transition from a Soviet-style mass training of their military to individual “training of professionals.”

Ukraine is now following a standard NATO type of training for their military forces. The hope is that is will improve the military’s readiness in both conventional combat as well as in the Special Operations arenas.

“A temporary guidebook on operational training in the Armed Forces of Ukraine has been approved, which also takes into account NATO procedures,” Demianenko said at a military briefing.

Also back in late January, NEWREP’s Jamie Read, who has been an advisor to the Ukrainian SF for the past four years, wrote that in seeking to modernize and upgrade their SOF units, the Ukrainians were sending some of the best SF troops for training at the elite Israeli Military Industries Academy for Advanced Security and Anti-Terror Training.

Read in his piece, which can read here, said:

This world-renowned academy, regarded by some as the best training facility around, has been host to numerous special operations units, both police, and military. Given the influence of the Israeli Special Forces—regarded by many as among the premier special operations units in the world—on the institution, that should come as no surprise. According to the academy website, “Established in 1999 by veterans of the Israeli security forces, IMI Academy specializes in a wide range of comprehensive security training programs, including anti-terrorism, anti-crime and homeland security.”

This is not only a military move but also a political statement. Ukraine is broadcasting that it has international partners and is seeking deeper collaboration with the Israeli government. This will undoubtedly be seen as distasteful to the Russian Federation, as the relationship between Russia and Israel continues to be poor due in no small part to Israel’s involvement in the Syrian Civil War, its ongoing conflict with Iran, and its close relationship with the U.S.

This is no small undertaking. The Ukrainian armed forces have for decades followed the Russian model which dates back to the Soviet Union. They still use a vast majority of Russian equipment, tanks, armored personnel carriers, fighter aircraft, and helicopters. Included in that are their artillery, small arms, and personal standard equipment.

But now with both sides of the conflict, simmering on each side of the battlefront, the United States and Ukraine have upped the ante. The U.S. has begun to supply the Ukrainians with Javelin anti-tank missiles.

This is also significant because the top of the line Russian tanks, the T-72BM, which supposedly has never been exported, was seen in combat, allegedly in the hands of pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists. Or was this the case that we saw in Syria, where Russian “mercenaries mistakenly” attack a U.S.-held base with armor? Either way, this has given the Russians and their proxies pause, before the inevitable resumption of hostilities this spring/summer.

The Americans are also furnishing personnel on the ground in a training scenario as well. There are U.S. troops who are providing instruction at the Yavoriv Combat Training Center as well as troops from the Special Operations Command running a Selection Course for the Ukrainian candidates.

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee and member of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, recently visited a special operations training center in Berdychiv. There, the U.S. and Ukrainian Special Operations Forces are working closely together to improve recruitment, retention, training, and overall military tactics. She also spent time with the “brand-new special operations forces that just graduated from their Ukrainian Q Course, which is run by our American special operations forces.”  She also spoke with Ukrainian forces and the threats that they’re facing on the Eastern front while visiting the Joint Forces Operations Headquarters in Kramatorsk.

“Being on the ground in Ukraine allowed me to directly convey to our ally that the United States will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with free, democratic governments. While Russia continues its aggression towards its neighbors and their sovereignty, the United States is here to promote good governance and provide a greater military partnership with our ally, specifically through the development of Ukrainian special operations forces,” Ernst said.


Photo: US Army