U.S. military trainers in Ukraine may ‘destabilize’ situation: Kremlin

300 U.S. troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade arrived on Tuesday and Wednesday in Yavoriv, western Ukraine

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The Kremlin said on Friday the arrival U.S. paratroopers in Ukraine to train Kiev’s National Guard could destabilize the situation in the east of the country, where separatists are fighting government forces.

“The participation of instructors or specialists from third countries on Ukrainian territory, where the domestic Ukrainian conflict is unresolved ... could destabilize the situation,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters during a conference call.

About 300 U.S. paratroopers arrived this week in Ukraine to train the Ukrainian National Guard which is fighting pro-Russian rebels in the east, the U.S. Army said in a statement.

The troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade arrived on Tuesday and Wednesday in Yavoriv, western Ukraine, to spend six months training three battalions of Ukrainian troops, said the statement dated Thursday.

The move is likely to anger Russia, which accuses the United States of backing the protests that brought down the pro-Russian president Victor Yanukovych last year, sparking conflict between those loyal to Kiev and Moscow.

The West accuses Russia of arming the separatists who have taken control of some areas in eastern Ukraine, a charge that Moscow denies.

Fighting between the separatists and Ukrainian troops is rumbling on in the east despite a February ceasefire agreement.

The conflict has so far claimed more than 6,000 lives, according to the United Nations.

The U.S. troops will train the National Guard of Ukraine (NGU), a reservist force reformed in 2014 to bring volunteers and militia under government control.

“We will be conducting classes on war-fighting functions, as well as training to sustain and increase the professionalism and proficiency of military staffs,” Major Jose Mendez, operations officer for the brigade, which is based in Italy, said in the statement.

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