Foreign Policy

Ukraine: Pentagon Sending Advisers, 2 More Jets Shot Down, Red Cross Thinks MH-17 Attack Is War Crime

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The Washington Times reports that Defense Department advisers will be in Ukraine "within the next few weeks," teaching the Kiev government how to rebuild and improve its military defense structure to better combat Russian-backed militias destabilizing the nation.

Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told the Times that the goal is to "shape and establish an enduring program for future U.S. efforts to support the Ukrainian military through subject-matter expert teams and long-term advisers."

According to a Daily Beast exclusive today, the Ukrainian government "quietly asked the United States and NATO for sensitive equipment to jam the radars that Russian anti-aircraft systems use to lock their missiles on planes," a request that hasn't been met in part because the U.S. believes Ukraine's military is "thoroughly penetrated by Russian intelligence."

Although Ukraine has successfully pushed back some of the so-called separatists, these pro-Russian forces still occupy Donetsk and Luhansk, two major cities in the east, and continue to get their hands on more powerful military equipment.

Today, the Ukrainian government claims that the insurgents shot down two Su-25s fighter jets – and that the missiles were launched from Russian territory.

"They were shot down very professionally. The terrorists do not have such professionals," Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Security Council said. The separatists have so far shot down over a dozen Ukrainian military planes.

Reuters reports that it was part of "fierce fighting [that] raged on Wednesday near the rebels' two main centers."

Yesterday evening the U.S. government also commented on the shooting-down of a Malaysia Airline passenger plane over Ukrainian skies that resulted in the death of nearly 300 civilians from around the world. The Associated Press reports:

Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for "creating the conditions" that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement. …

The plane was likely shot down by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, the intelligence officials said, citing intercepts, satellite photos and social media postings by separatists, some of which have been authenticated by U.S. experts.

"The Red Cross has made a confidential legal assessment that Ukraine is officially in a war, Western diplomats and officials say, opening the door to possible war crimes prosecutions, including over the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH-17," another Reuters article notes

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