Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 07.10.2018
The Russian Federation is invading Ukraine. Putin’s forces occupy Crimea, part of Donbas, and they’re pressing on the Sea of Azov. Muscovy violates every article of the Minsk Agreement, and bombards Ukrainian defenders and civilians in Luhansk and Donetsk regions every single day. Ukrainians fight to defend their homeland – which is Ukraine, Europe, and the West.
At long last, there are signs that Ukraine is getting some military support from friends and partners. Military training exercises are ramping up in Ukraine or involving interoperability with Ukrainian forces. There is a flurry of effort with exercises called “Maple Arch 2018,” “Clear Sky 2018,” “Cossack Will 2018,” and a yet-unnamed exercise on the Sea of Azov. Collective defence against Russian aggression is extending to the real front line, which is the battlefront where Putin is invading Europe in Ukraine.
Maple Arch is a multinational military training exercise that has been held under the mentorship of Canada since 1999. It rotates through Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine. This year it’s Lithuania’s turn. Maple Arch 2018 started on October 2 and runs for two weeks. The Maple Arch exercise being held now has the greatest number of participants since its inception. About 300 officers and soldiers from eight nations will participate: Canada, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, Montenegro, Romania and Turkey. Macedonia is an observer nation.
LITPOLUKRBRIG – the Grand Hetman Kostiantyn Ostrogski Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade– is participating. Maple Arch 2018 is the Brigade’s main training exercise this year. Having just assumed the position, LITPOLUKRBRIG is commanded by a Ukrainian officer for the first time in its existence: Colonel Dmytro Bratishko. LITPOLUKRBRIG was formed as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, as a higher command over affiliated manœuver battalions from Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine. It’s headquarters are in Lublin, Poland.
Clear Sky 2018 is the culmination of a 25 year effort to bring the United States Air Force and the Ukrainian Air Force together on Ukrainian soil and in Ukrainian airspace. On October 6, 144th Fighter Wing F-15C Eagle fighter jets from the U.S. Air Force landed in Starokostiantyniv, Khmelnytskyi region, Ukraine. They were accompanied by a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft.
Clear Sky 2018 is a multinational exercise with 950 participants from nine nations: Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Interoperability between NATO and Ukraine is key: the Russian Federation is attacking Ukraine on the battlefront in Donbas, 800 kilometres from Starokostiantyniv. Major-General Clay Garrison, Commander of the California Air National Guard, said: “This will not be the last time we do this. We will be here again.”
On October 4, the Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchynov, announced that the Armed Forces of Ukraine will conduct large-scale exercise in the Sea of Azov. The Russian Federation is invading Ukrainian territory on the northern coast of the Sea of Azov, has invaded and occupied Ukraine’s territory of Crimea, and has illegally built a bridge across the Kerch Strait to impose an effective maritime blockade on Ukrainian ports. In response to Russia’s war against Ukraine and escalating pressure Muscovy is placing on the Sea of Azov, Ukraine is rapidly building a naval base at Berdyansk. Already, a small “mosquito fleet” is stationed at the port.
From September 25 to 29, the Ukrainian military held an exercise for command staff on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, called “Cossack Will 2018.” Announcing plans for the Ukrainian military to conduct large-scale exercises in the Sea of Azov, Secretary Turchynov said: “Of course, we are ready to respond to any provocations from the Russian side.”
It is appropriate that the Ukrainian military marked a new beginning and at the same time a return to tradition this week. The Armed Forces of Ukraine are breaking with the nightmarish past of colonial occupation by Muscovy, and are reviving the military traditions of the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. When Lenin’s Russians or Stalin’s Russians or Putin’s Russians have invaded, soldiers of Ukraine have greeted each other by saying “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Heroes!” On October 5, President Petro Poroshenko signed into law “On Amendments to the Statutes of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.” From now on, Ukrainian military members will no longer salute each other in the offensive manner from the time of the Soviet occupation of Ukraine, but with the traditional Ukrainian greeting.
Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Heroes!