Earlier this week CNN reported that the Biden administration is considering “dramatically” increasing its training of Ukrainian forces. The proposal would involve US advisers training “much larger groups of Ukrainian soldiers in more sophisticated battlefield tactics” at American installations in Germany, and possibly other locations in Europe. This could involve as many as 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers trained by US advisers a month, which over a half-year period would total 15,000 going through the proposed ramped-up US program.
This report and others, which have also detailed expanding military training programs for Ukrainians in Europe overseen by UK and other NATO-member militaries, has prompted a Friday response from the Kremlin. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov alleged Thursday that the US and NATO are now directly participating in the Ukraine war.
“You shouldn’t say that the US and NATO aren’t taking part in this war. You are directly participating in it,” Lavrov told a press briefing.
“And not just by providing weapons but also by training personnel. You are training their military on your territory, on the territories of Britain, Germany, Italy, and other countries,” he pointed out.
He reiterated prior Kremlin statements underscoring that war between nuclear powers is “unacceptable” but while highlighting that growing US-NATO involvement greatly heightens this risk.
“Even if someone plans to start it by conventional means, the risk of escalation into a nuclear war will be enormous,” Lavrov added.
Lavrov’s comments are hugely significant given up to this point Moscow slammed what it called “indirect” American involvement. Russian officials spoke of the growing proxy war nature of the conflict. But now it appears the Kremlin sees that there’s been an escalation to direct NATO involvement.
Meanwhile the ongoing British program at multiple UK bases continues to be large in size. The UK’s own infantry program for Ukraine forces has a stated goal of training at least 10,000 Ukrainian troops.
It remains that the Kremlin has warned repeatedly against such deepening Western involvement, which clearly is now going far beyond just weapons shipments. Russia this week walked away from New START nuclear arms reduction treaty negotiations with the US while citing its growing involvement in backing Kiev as a major reason for halting resumption of talks.