The joint Lithuanian, Polish and Ukrainian brigade (LITPOLUKRBRIG) has announced that they will be holding their first joint training operation in February 2016. This exercise, Triple Brave, looks to improve operational planning and decision-making amongst the battalions.
Headquartered in Lubin, Poland, LITPOLUKRBRIG was signed in by the three governments in September 2014. Each nation will contribute one mechanized infantry battalion, to be stationed in their respective nation, under the command of Lublin. Each member has assigned a small contingent of troops to the headquarters, with command rotating every three years. If mandated by the United Nations Security Council, this brigade has the possibility of being deployed internationally for peacekeeping missions.
The brigade is made up of two EU/NATO members (Lithuania and Poland), which can be said to help implement Western standards and practices into the Ukrainian military, allowing for greater cooperation due to ease of interoperability.
If only deployed with the approval of the UNSC, this is likely to cause little issue as Russia will either approve or disapprove their deployment due to veto power at the UNSC. However, Russia and possibly even NATO would take issue with its deployment (as a whole) in Ukraine where it to unilaterally deploy, as it would drag NATO members into open conflict with separatist forces.
The increased integration of Ukraine with NATO members, particularly with members who have been especially vocal of Russia’s actions, is a possible step backwards in relations with Russia. In order for this brigade to not be problematic, NATO has to ensure that Lithuania and Poland do not allow this brigade to step beyond the current mandate at the behest of Ukraine.
LITPOLUKRBRIG has the potential to greatly increase Ukrainian operational capability for international peacekeeping operations, but can equally act as a provocative tool. While such cooperation should certainly not be discouraged, it should be heavily monitored in the current political climate so as to not hamper the ongoing political process to end conflict in the Donbas.