President Joe Biden announced his decision Friday to deploy U.S. troops to the NATO allies in Eastern Europe “in the near term,” as the potential Russian invasion of Ukraine looms large.
“I’ll be moving troops to Eastern Europe in the NATO countries in the near term,” the president told the press at Joint Base Andrews, where he departed upon completing his Friday trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, according to The Hill.
“Not a lot,” he added, referring to the troops’ size.
The U.S. Department of State has previously put 8,500 troops on high alert for potential deployment to the NATO countries in the region after Russia had amassed 130,000 troops along the Ukrainian border prompting fears of invasion. (RELATED: Russia Sends Medical Units To Front Lines At Ukrainian Border)
Biden says he may “in the near term” order some of the 8500 troops now on heightened alert into Eastern Europe because it would take time to get them in place.
He says US troops would not move into Ukraine, but rather provide reassurance to nervous NATO allies.
— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) January 25, 2022
Ukrainian officials disagreed with the State Department’s order for American citizens to leave Ukraine in the face of the impending military aggression and the Biden administration’s warnings of Russian attack taking place “at any point.”
“As of today, there are no grounds to believe” Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine imminently, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in parliament on Tuesday, adding that the Russians had not formed a battle group to breach the border.
“We don’t believe that President Putin has made a final decision to use these forces against Ukraine,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Friday, confirming the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s claims. “He clearly now has that capability.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has lamented the West’s “panic” over the Russian invasion, which he said damaged the country’s economy.
In a Wednesday written response to Russian requests, the U.S. refused to make any concessions on its previous position regarding Ukraine’s prospects of becoming a NATO member and the non-negotiability of allied deployments of troops and in Eastern Europe, The Associated Press reported.