The U.S. Military has put 8,500 troops on high alert for a possible deployment to Eastern Europe, State Department spokesman John Kirby announced Monday.
“Secretary Austin has placed a range of units in the United States on a heightened preparedness to deploy, which increases our readiness to provide forces if NATO should activate the NRF, or if other situations develop,” Kirby said. “All told, the number of forces that the secretary has placed on heightened alert comes up to about 8,500 personnel.”
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby:
“About 8,500” U.S. units have been placed on a “heightened preparedness to deploy.”
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) January 24, 2022
NATO is assembling a response force of “around 40,000 multinational troops” in Eastern Europe to prepare for a potential attack from Russia on a NATO ally. Russian military forces have threatened to invade Ukraine for weeks, and the U.S. urged citizens to evacuate Ukraine Sunday. (RELATED: Ukrainian President Zelensky Reminds Biden That ‘There Are No Minor Incursions’ After Press Conference Debacle)
Kirby told reporters that the majority of the forces being readied would bolster the NATO response force.
“The United States has taken steps to heighten the readiness of its forces at home and abroad, so they are prepared to respond to a range of contingencies, including support to the NATO response force if it is activated,” Kirby said.
President Joe Biden has previously stated that the U.S. will not deploy troops to directly defend Ukraine, instead vowing economic sanctions and other consequences should Russia move forward. The U.S. has, however, delivered military equipment and funding to Ukraine for decades.
Kirby stated that Russia has given no signs of de-escalation, and appears to be moving forward with invasion preparations across the Ukraine border.
The Pentagon says Russia is only continuing to grow its presence on Ukraine’s border. “They have not only shown no signs of de-escalating, but they are in fact adding more force capability,” press secretary John Kirby tells reporters.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) January 24, 2022
The U.S. and other NATO members have held multiple rounds of diplomatic talks with Russia this month, but none have made progress toward de-escalation. NATO released a statement echoing Kirby’s announcement on Monday.
“NATO will continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend all Allies, including by reinforcing the eastern part of the Alliance,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. “The United States has also made clear that it is considering increasing its military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance.”