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Amid fears of a wider conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the Army still plans to conduct an exercise in Ukraine this July, a spokesman for U.S. European Command told Army Times.
Exercise Rapid Trident 2014 is expected to take place near L’viv, Ukraine and will involve units from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, Georgia, Germany, Moldova, Poland, Romania, the United Kingdom and Ukraine, said Lt. Col. David Westover Jr.
Planning for the exercise is scheduled for May.
Notably, the exercise will focus on training for peacekeeping, not repelling an enemy invader.
“As of today, the plan is to train a U.S.-Ukrainian combined battalion headquarters in a Field Training Exercise with a peace support operations scenario,” Westover said in an email Friday to Army Times. “Exercise planning will continue until we are told otherwise.”
Currently, Russia has amassed thousands of troops along with tanks and helicopters on its border with eastern Ukraine, raising the possibility that it will annex Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Crimea region of Ukraine has declared independence and is slated to hold a referendum in which voters are expected to approve joining Russia.
To reassure NATO partners that border Russia, the U.S. has sent about 150 airmen and 12 F-16 fighters on a training mission to Poland. Additionally, the U.S. has dispatched six F-15 fighters and a KC-135 aerial refueling plane to Lithuania to help protect Baltic airspace. NATO is also sending Airborne Early Warning and Control System aircraft to conduct reconnaissance flights over Poland and Romania to monitor the situation in Ukraine.