Russia warns over arrival of US paratroopers in Ukraine

Arrival of 300 US Army soldiers to train Ukraine’s national guard sparks warnings by Russia of escalation in conflict.

Al Jazeera, April 18

About 300 US Army paratroopers have arrived in Ukraine for training exercises with national guard units – a move that Moscow and eastern Ukraine’s pro-Russian separatist rebels have warned will escalate the conflict.

The troops, from the Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade, are to spend six months training a total of about 900 Ukrainian national guardsmen.

Alexander Lukashevich, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, denounced the guardsmen as “ultranationalists … who stained themselves with the blood of women, children and the elderly during their punitive operations”.

Although Interior Minister Arsen Avakov had said the guardsman units could include the Azov Battalion, a far-right formation notorious for using an insignia used by many military units in Nazi Germany, US Embassy spokesman James Hallock said Azov fighters would not be among those trained.

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