There's been more confirmation to emerge concerning the American military presence in Ukraine, and its expanding role in the conflict, bringing NATO dangerously closer into a potential hot war with Russia.
"The Pentagon has authorized additional hazard pay for U.S. troops serving in Ukraine, a defense official confirmed Thursday," according to the publication Military Times. "The bonus, known as imminent danger pay, is offered to troops who serve in areas where they could be harmed by hostile fire or mines, insurrection, civil war or terrorism."
The statement also interestingly said that qualifying troops in Ukraine will be authorized back pay as far back as April 24, 2022—which strongly suggests a significant US presence inside the war-ravaged country since then, or from the opening months of the conflict.
"U.S. forces could already receive a separate $150 allowance, known as hardship duty pay, for working in Ukraine. That amount will drop to $100 each month when combined with the new bonus, the memo said, meaning troops can earn $325 in total monthly hazard pay," Military Times detailed further.
Of course, it's long been well-known that additional American troops were posted to the US embassy in Kiev early in the conflict, assisting the Marine guard. Like hotspots such as Iraq or in West Africa, it is normative for these additional security details to receive extra hazard pay.
But as is also the 'norm' when Washington gets ever more involved in a foreign proxy war and quagmire, definitions and parameters keep expanding ("security detail" vs. "boots on the ground" etc.), as we highlighted last year in reporting: Pentagon Confirms US Boots Are On The Ground In Ukraine.
At that time (Nov. 2022) we observed that the American troops were said to be performing "inspections" of US weapon caches based on a State Department and Pentagon plan to track US-supplied weapons in efforts to implement accountability for the billions of dollars worth of arms and ammunition transferred to Ukrainian forces since near the start of the war.
And now, the new Military Times report offers the following:
The Pentagon has said a small number of U.S. troops are stationed at the American embassy in Kyiv, working as its security detail and accounting for billions of dollars of military equipment the U.S. is sending to Ukraine.
A small U.S. special operations team working out of the embassy helps Ukrainian troops with intelligence operations and provides security for high-level visitors, but is not fighting alongside Ukrainian troops on the battlefield, ABC News reported in April.
What's clear is that despite the White House's ruling out of "combat" troops, what we are seeing is the inevitable 'mission creep' which has long been on display in other conflict zones (such as Syria and parts of the Middle East/North Africa).
Of course the West is fighting Russia, using Ukrainian people as proxies. American officials & Western war enthusiasts often say explicitly that this is a great war because we are harming Russia without suffering the bloodshed, just Ukrainians are. pic.twitter.com/Ib2vKlT1ky— Max Abrahms (@MaxAbrahms) July 28, 2023
If US special operations troops are doing inspections of Ukrainian arms and ammo, and presumably Russia is currently targeting any and all Ukrainian military bases and particularly foreign-supplied armor and equipment, this puts American troops and assets in Russia's crosshairs, greatly increasing the possibility that the US and Russia could stumble into a direct shooting war.