- The US Department of Defense is trying to convince lawmakers to fund two top-secret programs in Ukraine, which were put on hold after Russia launched its military operation in the country last year, the Washington Post reported. If the Pentagon gets its way, the operations involving US Special Forces could resume in 2024, the newspaper claimed.
The WP, citing unnamed current and former US officials, alleged that the schemes in question would allow US commandos to employ Ukrainian operatives to “observe Russian military movements and counter disinformation.” It said the programs are considered to be a form of “irregular warfare” intended for use against adversaries with whom Washington is not engaged in a military conflict.
While the Pentagon has already begun preparing its case for the resumption of these operations, Congress is unlikely to make a decision on the matter before the fall of 2023, the paper reported. The article also noted that a big question mark remains over whether the Biden administration would allow US commandos to actually reestablish a physical presence in Ukraine to oversee surrogates’ activities.
According to the WP, American special operations forces could end up having to oversee activities from a neighboring country – a format they have reportedly become accustomed to in recent years. However, it is unknown whether lawmakers will give the programs a green light as a number of critics remain unconvinced, the article claimed. Some of these are reportedly concerned that such operations may risk dragging the US deeper into the conflict between Moscow and Kiev.
“What started as a reconnaissance mission can quickly turn into combat when the surrogates start getting shot at,” one official told reporters on condition of anonymity. They went on to add that it is not clear “how the [defense] department is going to change people in Congress’ minds about that.”
In total, the United States has committed $32 billion in military aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration, including more than $29.3 billion since the commence of Russia’s SMO on February 24, 2022.
- NATO has surveyed its munitions stockpiles to ascertain how depleted they have become due to the Ukrainian war against Russia, Reuters has reported. What has been revealed, the news agency said, is that a number of European members are not prepared for a possible direct confrontation with Russia.
“If Europe were to fight Russia, some countries would run out of ammunition in days,” a European diplomat told Reuters on February 13, speaking on condition of anonymity. The NATO official who described the secret survey of ammunition stocks was not named either.
- The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is aware of recently-emerged footage apparently showing the execution of Russian soldiers who had surrendered by Ukrainian troops, a spokeswoman for the UN watchdog, Marta Hurtado, has said. “We have raised concerns about the treatment of prisoners of war, including alleged killings of POWs by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, with Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense,” Hurtado told TASS in a statement on February 10.
The graphic video in question surfaced earlier this week, filmed by an armed individual speaking Ukrainian and demanding answers from three men in military uniforms lying on the ground. After failing to elicit a coherent response from them, the man shoots one of the men in the head multiple times at point blank range.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the killing of unarmed soldiers who surrendered is a “widespread practice” by Kiev’s troops, and multiple incidents of this sort have occurred amid the ongoing Ukrainian-NATO aggression, with some of them published online by the killers themselves.
The Russian Investigative Committee said on February 9 that the footage appeared to show the recent murder of three Russian POWs by “Ukrainian nationalists,” pledging to investigate further, identify the perpetrators, and bring them to justice.
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