USA: In order to send maintenance workers from the West close to the frontlines in Ukraine, former US military officers and private organisations are raising money, Politico reported on Thursday.
The project, known as Trident Support, is slated to begin in March and will involve hiring 100 to 200 experienced contractors who will be stationed in Ukraine, according to the news website.
The report notes that all major maintenance of Western-supplied weapons currently takes place in Poland and other NATO countries, but that they are then expected to "embed themselves with small units near the front lines" and instruct Ukrainian troops on how to repair their equipment without having to send it outside of the country.
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Alexander Vindman, a retired lieutenant colonel of the US Army who served on the US National Security Council during the Trump administration, is the group's leader. Vindman gained notoriety when he testified during Trump's initial impeachment hearing about the former president's phone call with Vladimir Zelensky in 2019, during which he allegedly attempted to convince his Ukrainian counterpart to gather information about the Biden family.
Vindman told Politico that "we have all kinds of resources going into depots and advanced bases in Poland, primarily, and inside Ukraine they're basically on their own" He expressed his hope that if the project receives enough support, the situation might change.
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If they are dispersed over several locations throughout the nation, the former army official continued, "If you're doing this smartly, and you're distributing five or six facilities [in Ukraine], you could do this for about 150 to 200 mechanics."
Additionally, Trident Support is rumoured to have at least one private company backing it; this company declined to be named but told Politico that it is interested in giving Ukraine access to spare parts for quicker repairs.
Vindman acknowledged that the project might face significant difficulties as a result of Washington's hesitation to send defence contractors to Ukraine.
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Moscow has insisted time and time again that Ukraine is now directly involved in the conflict as a result of the West's arming of Ukraine. Foreign military personnel operating any weapons that the West gives to Ukraine, as well as those weapons themselves, "are legitimate targets for the Russian armed forces," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned in December.