US leads Ukraine war planning drills

US leads Ukraine war planning drills

The Pentagon claims it is not a party to the conflict despite providing weapons, training, intelligence and strategic combat decision expertise

The US military is overseeing war games to train up Ukrainian officers, with the Pentagon saying the exercises will help commanders make better decisions on the battlefield, even as top officials insist Washington plays no role in Kiev’s war planning.

The table-top exercises kicked off this week at a US Army base in Wiesbaden, Germany and are set to continue for several days. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, an Army general, traveled to the base on Thursday, where he attempted to downplay the American role in comments to reporters.

“No one is sitting there telling the Ukrainians, go left or go right or do this or do that. That is not the job of the international community,” he said. “All we’re doing is setting up the framework and the mechanics to allow the Ukrainians to self-learn, to learn against a situation, or various scenarios.”

While officials declined to provide further details about the scenarios presented to the Ukrainian officers, Reuters reported that they would involve “thought exercises to evaluate potential military courses of action.”

The latest drills follow another round of US-led combined-arms training for Ukrainian troops elsewhere in Germany, who received instruction on a variety of American-made weapons, including Bradley Fighting Vehicles supplied in previous arms packages to Kiev.

Moscow has repeatedly warned against such training and weapons shipments, arguing they only prolong the fighting and make a diplomatic settlement impossible. On Thursday, former Russian President and current deputy chair of the Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, said that Washington and its allies must  be treated as direct parties to the conflict if, “in addition to supplying weapons, they train personnel to operate them.”

“Everyone who made the decision to deliver those weapons or repair them, along with foreign mercenaries and military trainers, ought to be considered legitimate military targets,” he said, adding that the provision of Western warplanes to Kiev would also constitute a major ‘red line’ for Russia.

Despite tens of billions of dollars in weapons donated to Ukrainian forces, multiple training programs hosted by the US military, and Western intelligence support offered to Kiev, American officials continue to insist Washington is not a participant in the conflict. Denying Moscow’s accusations that US forces have supplied intelligence for recent attacks inside Russian territory, Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder claimed on Thursday that “we are not at war with Russia, nor do we seek war with Russia.”

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