US President Joe Biden said the United States is planning to deploy its additional troops in Eastern Europe as part of a plan by NATO countries to increase their military presence in the region amid the Ukrainian crisis.
According to President Biden, American troops will be transferred to the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Alliance “in the near future.” As the head of the White House clarified on Friday, January 28, there will be “not many.”
As CNN notes, the pledge to send additional US forces to NATO allies in Eastern Europe in the “near term” marks a new stage in the US response to the escalating Russian presence on the border with Ukraine, which US officials fear could soon lead to an invasion. .
“In the near future I will move US troops to Eastern Europe to NATO countries,” Biden told reporters, when asked about the timing of the deployment of troops, adding that he did not have an update on the situation in Ukraine.
On the same day, the head of the Pentagon, Lloyd Austin, said that the order to send troops to Eastern Europe had not yet been received. According to the US Secretary of Defense, the units are in preparation for deployment and will be ready to act if ordered by NATO. Austin spoke of the 8,500 US soldiers who have been put on high alert since January 24th. At the same time, as the DPA agency clarifies, tens of thousands of American military personnel are usually deployed in Europe, including about 35 thousand in Germany.
As reported by CNN, Biden’s comments about sending more U.S. forces to Eastern Europe came hours after Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley warned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be “terrible” for that country and lead to “significant” victims.
At a press briefing at the Pentagon on Friday, General Milley said, “You can imagine what it might look like in densely populated urban areas, along roads and so on and so forth. It would be terrible. It would be terrible. here.”
At the same time, CNN notes, the statements of General Mark Milley contrast with the signals sent by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelenskiy spoke to Biden on the phone Thursday and the two leaders disagreed on the urgency of the threat posed by Russia, and Zelenskiy backed up his point, saying on Friday that the rhetoric risks causing panic and destabilizing his country’s economy.
“They say that tomorrow there will be war. This means panic,” Zelensky told reporters.
Meanwhile, General Milley says he thinks Russia’s actions “feel different” than during previous escalations: “It’s bigger in scale and scope than anything we’ve seen lately, and I think that you will have to go back to the Cold War for a while to see something of this magnitude.”
According to the American military commander, the combat capabilities of the Ukrainian armed forces have improved since 2014, “but they need more help to protect themselves, especially from the invading forces that Russia is currently assembling.” At the same time, General Milley said that the United States is not going to deploy “offensive forces” anywhere to “attack Russia.”
For his part, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said the decision to place US forces on high alert in Eastern Europe. not yet accepted, and the main purpose of the troops, which will be deployed in the first place to support NATO’s rapid reaction force, is to “calm down our allies.”
“It’s about our allies trusting us. And that’s what we’re really focused on,” Austin said.
Meanwhile, Russia continues to say it has no plans to attack Ukraine. This, in particular, in an interview with Russian media said on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. While the Biden administration “welcomed” the announcement, CNN notes, it needed to be backed up by action, according to a senior US administration official. “We need Russia to withdraw some of its deployed troops from the border with Ukraine and take other steps to de-escalate,” a White House spokesman said Friday.
The United States requested Monday a UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine, which it sees as an opportunity for Russia to “explain the extraordinary military buildup on Ukraine’s borders and its other threats and destabilizing activities,” a senior administration official said Friday.