I will admit up front that I had no idea how extensive NATO’s presence in the Ukraine was until this week. I just had not paid attention. But Russia’s blistering attacks on Yavoriv, Delyatyn, Mykolaiv and Zhytomyr have caught my eye. If you are not paying attention you should.
My most recent article, Russia Exploits Ukraine’s Western Flank, should have been titled, Russia Exposes NATO’s Impotence. That piece addressed the attacks on Yavoriv and Delyatyn. My curiosity is fully piqued and I am now searching the internet for U.S. and NATO documents describing their activities at those sights.
Have you heard about Zhytomyr? Did you know that NATO carried out cybersecurity training for Ukraine at Zhytomyr in September 2018 and described Ukraine as a “NATO PARTNER.”
As part of the NATO Defence Education Enhancement Programme for Ukraine, experts from allied countries visited the Serhiy Korolylov Zhytomyr Military Institute (ZMI) from 24 to 28 September, 2018 to assist with the development of a new course on cybersecurity. Ukraine is one of the first NATO partners (together with Tunisia) to develop such a course.
The experts provided working examples of cybersecurity education in a military institute context (Canadian, Polish and Irish military academies), facilitated through the adaptation of the Generic Reference Curriculum on Cybersecurity. They also demonstrated a step-by-step process to develop a customized course for a specific national context. This included a walk through of syllabus development, and a presentation of detailed lesson plans and laboratory exercises. The exercise involved cyber operations, both defensive and offensive, in support of an overarching military mission scenario.
NATO was training Ukraine for “offensive” cyber operations. Russia did not have to task any intelligence operatives to find this out. All they needed was someone capable of doing a Google search. This is not an imaginary Russian fear. This is real. It is detailed at the link in NATO’s own words.
The Ukrainian base at Myolaiv also was hit yesterday (Saturday):
Mykolaiv has a history with NATO and the United States:
As tensions rise between Russia and Ukraine on the Black Sea, the US is upgrading several Ukrainian naval bases to give American and NATO warships the ability to dock just miles from Russia-controlled Crimea.
Centered at the Ochakiv Naval Base and the military facility at Mykolaiv — 40 miles east of Odessa and less than 100 northwest of Crimea — the American-funded effort includes reinforcing and upgrading existing piers and adding a new floating dock, security fencing around the bases, ship repair facilities, and a pair of brand-new Maritime Operations Centers from which Ukrainian and NATO forces can direct exercises and coordinate activities.
Russia has been worrying about this threat for a while. In July of 2018, Radio Free Europe reported that Ukraine was upset because Russia was naming some of its military units after Ukrainian cities:
According to the Kremlin, the renaming decrees are intended “to preserve glorious military and historic traditions, and to nurture loyalty to the fatherland and military duty among the military personnel.”. . .
Under the decrees, the 933rd Missile Regiment is now called the Upper Dnieper Regiment, after the river in Ukraine. The 6th Tank Regiment is now called the Lvov Regiment and the 68th Tank Regiment the Zhitomir-Berlin Regiment and the 163rd Tank Regiment is called the Nezhin Regiment.
The decrees all use Russian spellings of the Ukrainian names, which in Ukrainian are Lviv, Zhytomyr, and Nizhyn.
With the benefit of hindsight it would appear Russia was sending a very clear message about its strategic priorities in Ukraine.
Finally, it appears that NATO and EUCOM are busy scrubbing their websites of all references to bases in Ukraine that hosted NATO and U.S. forces. I found the following using DuckDuckGo, but the link is broken. Do you think that is a coincidence? I do not.
https://www.eucom.mil › topic › yavorivUnited States European Command Image. 3:19 PM 7/12/2016. A Ukrainian Armed Forces Chaplain and Ukrainian National Guard Soldiers finish a prayer at the closing ceremony for Exercise Rapid Trident 16 in Yavoriv, Ukraine July 8, 2016. The exercise is a regional command post and field training exercise that involves about 2,000 Soldiers from 13 …
I do not know if there were other bases where NATO and U.S. military forces provided training and/or materiel to Ukrainian forces. If the events of this past week are an indicator of future plans, I would not want to spend any time at those bases. Russia is being very clear–“we are going to demilitarize them.”