By Nauman Sadiq for VT Islamabad
CNN reported March 6  Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley visited a week before an undisclosed airfield near the Ukraine border that has become a hub for shipping weapons. The airport’s location remains a secret to protect the shipments of weapons, including anti-armor missiles, into Ukraine. Although the report didn’t name the location, the airstrip was likely in Poland along Ukraine’s border.
The Russian military had not targeted these shipments once they entered Ukraine, a U.S. official told CNN, but there was some concern Russia could begin targeting the deliveries as its assault advances.
Today, for the first time since its military offensive began two weeks ago, Russia hit military targets  in western Ukraine. The airstrikes at Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk targeted two military airports used for carrying weapons shipment to Kyiv and eastern Ukraine, leaving two Ukrainian servicemen dead and six people wounded at Lutsk.
In an interview with CBC News  on March 8, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned that a Russian attack on the supply lines of allied nations supporting Ukraine with arms and munitions would be a dangerous escalation of the war raging in Eastern Europe. “Russia is the aggressor and Ukraine is defending itself. If there is an attack against any NATO country, NATO territory, that will trigger Article 5.”
Article 5 is the self-defense clause in NATO’s founding treaty which states that an attack on one member is an attack on all 30 member nations. “I’m absolutely convinced President Putin knows this and we are removing any room for miscalculation, misunderstanding about our commitment to defend every inch of NATO territory,” Stoltenberg said.
NATO chief said there’s a clear distinction between supply lines within Ukraine and those operating outside its borders. “There is a war going on in Ukraine and, of course, supply lines inside Ukraine can be attacked,” he said. “An attack on NATO territory, on NATO forces, NATO capabilities, that would be an attack on NATO.”
Besides deploying 15,000 additional troops in Eastern Europe last month, total number of US troops in Europe is now expected to reach 100,000. “We have 130 jets at high alert. Over 200 ships from the high north to the Mediterranean, and thousands of additional troops in the region,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told CNN .
A spokesman for US European Command told CNN the United States was sending two Patriot missile batteries to Poland and was also considering deploying THAAD air defense system, a more advanced system equivalent in capabilities to Russia’s S-400 air defense system.
Besides providing 2,000 surface-to-air missiles and 17,000 anti-armor munitions, including Javelins and NLAW, to Ukraine’s security forces and allied militias, British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said  that the UK was considering sending the laser-guided Starstreak shoulder-fired anti-aircraft system, a significant upgrade from the Stinger missiles sent by the US, Germany and other allies. The weapon has a range of over four miles and can take down fighter planes more effectively than the Stinger.
The United States and its allies have reportedly infused  over $3 billion in arms into Ukraine since the 2014 Euromaidan coup and committed to send over $850 million more in military aid late last month. The Biden administration has already delivered about $240 million of its promised $350 million in additional military equipment to Ukraine, with the rest expected to arrive in the coming days or weeks at the latest.
In addition, the European Union promised to commit nearly 500 million euros for its own military aid package. During his first year in office, the Biden administration provided $650 million  military aid to Ukraine.
The Politico reported  on March 9 that the Congress’ proposed $1.5 trillion packages to fund the federal government through September would boost national defense coffers to $782 billion, about a 6 percent increase. On top of the hefty budget increase, the package was set to deliver nearly $14 billion in emergency funding to help Ukraine, nearly twice the assistance package initially proposed, including $3 billion for US forces and $3.5 billion for military equipment to Ukraine, plus more than $4 billion for US humanitarian efforts.
In an explosive scoop, the Sunday Times reported  on March 4 that defense contractors were recruiting former military veterans for covert operations in Ukraine for a whopping $2,000 a day: “The job is not without risk but, at almost $60,000 a month, the pay is good. Applicants must have at least five years of military experience in eastern Europe, be skilled in reconnaissance, be able to conduct rescue operations with little to no support and know their way around Soviet-era weaponry.”
Russian media alleged  last week that the United States security agencies had launched a large-scale recruitment program to send private military contractors to Ukraine, including professional mercenaries of Academi, formerly Blackwater, Cubic, and Dyn Corporation.
Russia’s Defense Ministry’s spokesman Igor Konashenkov warned that foreign mercenaries in Ukraine would not be considered prisoners of war if detained in line with international humanitarian law, rather they could expect criminal prosecution at best.
In fact, private military contractors in close coordination and consultation with covert operators from CIA and Western intelligence agencies are not only training Ukraine’s conscript forces in the use of caches of MANPADS and anti-armor munitions provided by the US, Germany, and the rest of the European nations as military assistance to Ukraine but are also directing the whole defense strategy of Ukraine by taking an active part in combat operations in some of the most hard-fought battles against Russia’s security forces north of Kyiv and at Kharkiv and Donbas.
In order to create an “international legion” comprising foreign mercenaries, Kyiv lifted visa requirements for anyone willing to fight. “Every friend of Ukraine who wants to join Ukraine in defending the country, please come over,” Ukrainian President Zelensky pleaded at a recent press conference, adding “We will give you weapons.”
Ukraine has already declared martial law and a general mobilization of its populace. Those policies include conscription for men aged 18-60 and the confiscation of civilian vehicles and structures, while Ukrainian convicts with military experience are being released from prison to back up the war effort.
In a show of solidarity with Ukraine, several European nations recently announced they would not only not criminalize but rather expedite citizens joining NATO’s war effort in Ukraine.
United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she supported individuals from the UK who might want to go to Ukraine to join an international force to fight. She told the BBC  it was up to people to make their own decisions, but argued it was a battle for democracy. She said Ukrainians were fighting for freedom, “not just for Ukraine but for the whole of Europe.”
Favoring providing lethal weapons only instead of British mercenaries to Ukraine’s proxy war, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Ukraine would instead be supported to “fight every street with every piece of equipment we can get to them.”
Buzzfeed News revealed  on Feb. 27 thousands of foreign fighters had flocked to Ukraine since Russia’s war against the country began in 2014. While most of them had been Russians and citizens of other former Soviet republics, hundreds had come from the European Union.
“This is the beginning of a war against Europe, against European structures, against democracy, against basic human rights, against a global order of law, rules, and peaceful coexistence,” Ukrainian President Zelensky said in a statement announcing a decree on the creation of a foreign legion. “Anyone who wants to join the defense of Ukraine, Europe, and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals.”
The news of an official foreign unit was met with excitement by members of the Georgia National Legion, an English-speaking force of volunteers with Western military experience who train Ukrainian troops and sometimes deploy to the front line with the country’s marines. “This is what we have waited for. It’s very good,” Levan Pipia, a legion soldier and Georgian army veteran of the 2008 war with Russia, told BuzzFeed New.
In an exclusive report  on March 8, Reuters noted although the US and UK governments had nominally discouraged citizens from traveling to Ukraine to combat Russian forces, others, such as Canada or Germany, had cleared the way for citizens to get involved.
Despite formal directive by the UK government urging citizens against traveling to Ukraine, Reuters spilled the beans that among those who had arrived to fight for Ukraine were dozens of former soldiers from the British Army’s elite Parachute Regiment, according to an ex-soldier from the regiment. Hundreds more would soon follow, he said.
Often referred to as the Paras, the regiment has in recent years served in Afghanistan and Iraq. “They’re all highly trained, and have seen active service on numerous occasions,” the ex-soldier from the regiment said. The Ukraine crisis will give them purpose, camaraderie and “a chance to do what they’re good at: fight.”
With a vast mobilization of Ukrainian men underway, the country has plenty of volunteer fighters. But there is a shortage of specialists who know how to use Javelin and NLAW anti-tank missiles, which professional soldiers train for months to use properly.
Anthony Capone, a wealthy healthcare entrepreneur in New York City, said he was providing funding for hundreds of ex-soldiers and paramedics who wanted to go to Ukraine. Capone added he was only funding ex-soldiers whose military credentials he could verify or paramedics who currently worked in an emergency trauma setting. About 60% of those who had been in touch were American and 30% European.
Despite the recruitment of mercenaries and flushing the country with lethal weapons, regular warfare in Ukraine is already over even before it began when the mouthpiece of NATO’s imperial interventions abroad, the corporate media, is publicly acknowledging that the impending fall of Kyiv in the face of Russian blitz is a foregone conclusion and that Volodymyr Zelensky would soon form a government-in-exile, which would lead guerrilla warfare from safe havens in Poland.
The Washington Post reported  on March 5: “The possible Russian takeover of Kyiv has prompted a flurry of planning at the State Department, Pentagon, and other U.S. agencies in the event that the Zelensky government has to flee the capital or the country itself.
“‘We’re doing contingency planning now for every possibility,’ including a scenario in which Zelensky establishes a government-in-exile in Poland, said a U.S. administration official.
“Zelensky, who has called himself Russia’s target No. 1, remains in Kyiv and has assured his citizens he’s not leaving. He has had discussions with U.S. officials about whether he should move west to a safer position in the city of Lviv, closer to the Polish border. Zelensky’s security detail has plans ready to swiftly relocate him and members of his cabinet, a senior Ukrainian official said. ‘So far, he has refused to go.’
“During an official visit, a Ukrainian special operations commander told Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and other lawmakers that they were shifting training and planning to focus on maintaining an armed opposition, relying on insurgent-like tactics.
“As the Russian military struggles with logistical challenges — including fuel and food shortages — Waltz anticipates that the Ukrainians will repeatedly strike Russian supply lines. To do that, they need a steady supply of weapons and the ability to set improvised explosive devices, he said. ‘Those supply lines are going to be very, very vulnerable, and that’s where you really literally starve the Russian army.’”
Clearly, planning and preparations are well underway to lure Russia into NATO’s “bear trap project,” a term borrowed from the Soviet-Afghan War of the eighties when Western powers used Pakistan’s security forces and generous funding from the oil-rich Gulf States for providing guerrilla warfare training and lethal weaponry to Afghan jihadists to mount a war of attrition and “bleed the security forces” of former the Soviet Union in the protracted irregular warfare.
About the author: Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based geopolitical and national security analyst focused on geostrategic affairs and hybrid warfare in the Af-Pak and the Middle East regions. His domains of expertise include neocolonialism, military-industrial complex and petro-imperialism. He is a regular contributor of diligently researched investigative reports to alternative news media.