By naming Ukraine as a top military priority, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is undercutting the United States’ efforts to dissuade Russia from annexing the country’s eastern half. Although NATO has planned to conduct exercises with Ukraine in September, U.S. officials now say the exercises should focus on less risky areas. Some in Ukraine meanwhile say that if NATO undertakes a military operation on their soil, they will not sit idly by. “If this military escalation in Eastern Ukraine gets dangerous, they should bring forward NATO’s plan to protect our country and fight it,” Andriy Parubiy, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said in an interview this week. “This will require a substantial confrontation between Ukrainian forces and the enemy forces if there is an escalation of arms and weapons in the region.” One of the reasons that NATO and Russia are currently focused on training and exercises is that the Ukraine war has come a long way since a few years ago. The much smaller fighting forces, including Russian forces, are much better trained and most of their fighters have undergone much more rigorous training than those in other parts of the former Soviet Union.
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