Russia-Ukraine: The US sent 8,500 troops on high alert about the possibility of deployment in Europe

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon has ordered 8,500 troops on heightened alert to potentially deploy to Europe as part of a NATO “response force” amid growing concern that Russia could soon make a military move towards Ukraine. President Joe Biden consulted with key European leaders, underscoring the United States’ solidarity with its allies there.

Putting the US military on high alert for Europe on Monday showed waning hopes that Russian President Vladimir Putin would turn his back on what Mr Biden himself has said looks like a threat. threatened to invade neighboring Ukraine.

Beyond Ukraine’s future, the credibility of a NATO alliance at the heart of US defense strategy is at stake, but Putin sees it as a relic of the Cold War and a threat to Russian security. For Biden, the crisis is a major test of his ability to forge a unified allied position against Putin.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said about 8,500 US troops are being put on alert for possible deployment – not to Ukraine but to NATO territory in Eastern Europe as part of coalition forces. intended to signal a unified commitment to deter any broader aggression by Putin.

Russia denies it is planning an invasion. It says the Western accusations are just a cover for NATO’s planned provocations. Recent days have seen high-stakes diplomacy fail to achieve any breakthrough, and key actors in the film are making moves that show fear. about the impending war. Biden has sought to strike a balance between actions aimed at deterring Putin and actions that could give the Russian leader an opportunity to use the massive force he has assembled on the Ukrainian border.

Biden held an 80-minute video call with several European leaders about Russia’s military build-up and potential responses to an invasion.

“I had a very, very, very good meeting – full agreement with all the European leaders,” Biden told reporters at the White House. “We’ll talk about it later.”

The White House said the leaders emphasized their desire for a diplomatic solution to the crisis but also discussed efforts to prevent further Russian aggression, “including preparing to cause great consequences and severe economic costs to Russia for such actions as well as to bolster security on NATO’s eastern flank.”

A day earlier, the State Department ordered the families of all American staff at the US Embassy in Kyiv to leave the country, and it said nonessential embassy staff could leave. go at the expense of the US government.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Oleg Nikolenko, said the US decision was “a step too early” and a sign of “excessive caution”. He said that Russia is spreading panic among Ukrainians and foreigners in order to destabilize Ukraine.

Britain also said it was also withdrawing some diplomats and dependents from the Kyiv Embassy. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said an invasion was not inevitable but “intelligence is rather dismal.”

Ordering only a modest number of US troops to be ready for potential deployment to Europe demonstrates America’s resolve to support its NATO allies, especially those in Eastern Europe that feel threatened by Russia. threatened and worried that Putin might put them in his straits.

“This is to provide reassurance to our NATO allies, adding that no troops are intended to be deployed to Ukraine,” Kirby told a Pentagon news conference. countries that are not members of the coalition but have been assured by Washington of continued American political support. and provide weapons.

The Pentagon’s move, made at the direction of Biden and on the recommendation of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, is being taken in tandem with actions by other NATO member governments to strengthen the presence of other NATO member states. defense in the Eastern European countries. For example, Denmark is sending a frigate and F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania; Spain is sending four fighter jets to Bulgaria and three ships to the Black Sea to join NATO’s navy, while France is ready to send troops to Romania.

In a statement ahead of Kirby’s announcement, NATO said the Netherlands plans to send two F-35 fighter jets to Bulgaria in April and is bringing one ship and ground units to readiness for the Air Force. NATO response.

NATO has not yet made a decision to activate the Response Force, which includes about 40,000 troops from many countries. That force was reinforced in 2014 – the year Russia occupied Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula and intervened in support of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine – by creating a “lead force” of some 20,000 troops in high alert status within the larger Response Force.

If NATO decides to activate the Response Force, the United States will contribute a range of military units, Kirby said.

“It’s a NATO call,” Kirby said. “For our part, we want to make sure we’re ready in case that call comes in. And that means making sure that the units that will contribute to the call are always ready to announce in time. shortest possible.”

He said some units would be ordered ready to deploy in as little as five days. Of the 8,500 troops, an unspecified number could be sent to Europe for purposes other than supporting the NATO Response Force, he said. Without providing details, he said they could be deployed “if other situations develop.”

Ahead of the US statement, NATO issued a statement summarizing the moves described by member states. Their restoration under the NATO banner appeared to show determination. The West is ramping up its rhetoric in the information war that has brought Ukraine to a standstill.

Russia has sent some 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s border, demanding that NATO promise never to allow Ukraine to join and other actions, such as the alliance’s stationing of troops in former Soviet bloc countries, must be approved. limit.

On Monday, NATO said it was strengthening its deterrence capabilities in the Baltic Sea region.

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would “take all necessary measures to protect and defend all allies”. “We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment, including by strengthening our collective defenses.”

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said NATO and the US were behind the escalating tensions, not Russia.

“All of this is happening not because of what we, Russia, are doing. This is happening because of what NATO, the US, is doing,” Peskov told reporters.

NATO’s announcement comes as European Union foreign ministers seek to show their renewed unity in support of Ukraine, and report concerns about divisions over how to better deal with Ukraine. most to confront any Russian aggression.

In a statement, the ministers said the EU had stepped up sanctions preparations, and they warned that “any further military action by Russia against Ukraine will have major consequences and come at a heavy price. “


The Associated Press’s Lorne Cook reports from Brussels, Belgium. AP writers Yuras Karmanau in Kyiv, Ukraine; Dasha Litvinova in Moscow; Geir Moulson in Berlin; Aritz Parra in Madrid; Jill Lawless in London; Lolita C. Baldor and Aamer Madhani in Washington; Mike Corder in The Hague; and Raf Casert in Brussels contributed to the tis report.

Copyright © 2022 of the Associated Press. Copyright Registered. Russia-Ukraine: The US sent 8,500 troops on high alert about the possibility of deployment in Europe

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