On the heels of the scrapping of the truce between the Ukrainian government and the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, the first U.S. Army paratroopers arrived in Poland for the start of military maneuvers that are slated to last approximately one month.
The paratroopers are part of what is set to involve about 600 troops in an effort to alleviate the concerns of the recent annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia. According to the Pentagon Press Secretary Admiral John Kirby, those troops will rotate out after approximately a month and will be replaced by fresh troops in an exercise that may last more than a year.
Kirby called the exercises a symbolic gesture.
Meanwhile, on the border with eastern Ukraine, Russian troops , in the Rostov region of Russia, conducted military exercises as well. Footage coming out of Russia shows formations of assorted military vehicles that included jeeps, armored personnel carriers, as well as mobile rocket launchers, and mobile surface to air missile launchers, traveling in columns in the area. It is unknown how many of the estimated 40,000 Russian troops are taking part in the exercise.
Kiev decided to end the Easter Truce against pro-Russian separatists after the discovery of two bodies, one of which was a party member of the same political party as the acting Ukrainian president Oleksandr Turchynov. It was last Thursday that the town councilman, Volodmyr Rybak, was seen being manhandled by separatists as he attempted to remove a separatist flag. It was later reported that he was grabbed by separatists in camouflage gear and spirited away. That was the last time he was seen until the discovery of his body and another on Saturday in the river near Slovyansk. Both men showed signs of torture.
As Kiev renewed it push against the separatists who occupy buildings in several of the cities in eastern Ukraine, Russia warned the Ukrainian government that if Russian speaking citizens come under attack that Russia would retaliate. The west believes that the separatist movement in eastern Ukraine is being orchestrated by undercover Russian special forces whose intent is to undermine the stability of the region, giving Russia reason to intervene.