President Joe Biden has ordered 3,000 additional U.S. troops to deploy to Poland as the likelihood of a Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to rise, Reuters reported Friday.
The troops will come in addition to the 8,500 U.S. troops already supplementing a NATO reaction force that would respond if a Russian invasion moves beyond Ukraine, according to Reuters. Biden and other U.S. officials have repeatedly stated that the U.S. will not deploy troops to directly defend Ukraine, however.
The deployment comes as the White House and State Department warned Americans to evacuate Ukraine within the next 24-48 hours. While the U.S. has repeatedly urged Americans to evacuate Ukraine in recent weeks, the Friday warning is the first to come along with such a specific window. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: ‘Speak Loudly And Carry A Small Stick’: Republicans Blast Biden’s Response To Putin’s Escalation In Ukraine)
“We’re in a window when an invasion could begin at any time,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday. “And to be clear, that includes during the Olympics.”
White House officials have denied media reports that U.S. intelligence believes Russian President Vladimir Putin has already given the order to proceed with an invasion next week. National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Friday that the U.S. has not confirmed such an order, but said that an invasion is a “distinct possibility.”
Biden urged Americans to evacuate Ukraine multiple times this week, adding Thursday evening that he would not deploy U.S. troops to ensure a safe evacuation for Americans after an invasion. While Biden said Monday that U.S. diplomatic officials are remaining in the country, Blinken said Friday that the State Department is drawing down its embassy staff in the country.
The State Department evacuated the families of U.S. diplomats from Ukraine in late January and sent out a memo advising U.S. citizens who were there for non-diplomatic purposes to evacuate as well.
The U.S., Germany and other NATO members have threatened severe economic consequences for Russia if Putin moves forward with an invasion. Biden stated that in addition to “decisive” sanctions, an invasion would end the Nord Stream 2 project. Nord Stream 2 is a years-long, multi-billion-dollar project to construct an oil pipeline from Russia to Germany. The project is all but completed, however, which raises questions as to how the U.S. could halt its completion.
Biden stated Monday alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that if Russian “tanks or troops” cross the Ukrainian border, then “there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2.” While Scholz refused to specifically state that Germany would end the Nord Stream 2 project, he affirmed that Germany was “completely united” with the U.S. on any consequences for a Russian invasion.
“I promise you, we will be able to do it,” Biden said when pressed about how he would ensure the pipeline doesn’t move forward.