Russian officials and experts have raised concerns about a joint U.S.-Ukraine largest aviation exercise — called the Clear Sky 2018.
The Clear Sky 2018 is a multinational military exercise with the participation of U.S. combat aircraft and takes place mainly at Starokostiantyniv Air Base, located about 150 miles southwest of Kyiv, and other training areas and ranges in Ukraine.
Besides Ukraine and the United States, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom are participating. Clear Sky 18 promotes regional stability and security, while strengthening partner capabilities and fostering trust.
But Russian officials are concerned about that near the borders with Russia are concentrated NATO combat aircraft and fighters of the U.S. Air Force. It involves more than fifty aircraft from eight NATO member-states. U.S. aircraft participating include an F-15 fighters jets from the California Air National Guard ; KC-135s from the Illinois Air National Guard and the 100th Air Refueling Wing; and MQ-9s operating out of Miroslawiec Military Air Base, Poland.
Also, Military expert Alexander Zhilin stated an interview with Russian media that these drills, like many other similar exercises held in Ukraine with the participation of USA and NATO, are directed against the Russian Federation and are preparing a springboard for an offensive against Moscow.
“The next NATO military exercises involving Ukraine have a frankly anti-Russian orientation. A number of complex tasks are being worked out: the use of aviation, electronic intelligence and so on. With this, Ukraine is not an ally for the United States. Ukraine is a springboard for waging war against the Russian Federation if the United States wants to unleash it, ”Zhilin said.
It should be stated, really Ukraine is not NATO member, although relations with the alliance began in 1994. In 2014, following the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea, Ukraine has been involved in a low-intensity conflict with Russian proxy forces in the east of the country, growing, as a consequence, cooperation with NATO.
Оfficials of the U.S. Air National Guard states that Clear Sky 18 promotes regional stability and security, while strengthening partner capabilities and fostering trust.
Training will focus on air sovereignty, air interdiction, air-to-ground integration, air mobility operations, aeromedical evacuation, cyberdefense and personnel recovery.
In addition, Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko said that the training is intended to increase the level of interoperability of the Air Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the Air Forces of the US and NATO, work out effective joint management of operations in the air, work out the sharing of intelligence and surveillance capabilities, as well as cyberdefense focused on the needs of the air forces.
During the working trip to Khmelnytskyi region, President, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko visited the Joint Operational Center of the “Clear Sky – 2018” multinational exercises, in which Ukrainian military and military of the NATO member-states take part .
“This is the largest exercise in the last four years. It involves more than fifty aircrafts from eight NATO member-states and our planes – of the Ukrainian Air Forces. The purpose of the exercises is to increase the level of interoperability of our combat aircrafts with the air forces of the United States and other member states of the Alliance,” the President emphasized.
The Head of State remarked: “Five years ago our planes rusted on the ground and military pilots forgot about the sky. But today, each of you has an opportunity to see the professional skills of our pilots – soldiers, who carry out difficult tasks on an equal footing with their foreign counterparts”.
“Our attack planes, our F-planes, our bombers are in full coordination with the control center, carry out combat missions together with the F-15, F-16 of the NATO members and received the highest marks from our partners. We are proud of the Ukrainian warriors,” Petro Poroshenko added.