US troops will be deployed and repositioned to Eastern Europe as a result of the ongoing tensions and standoff in Ukraine, President Biden announced on Wednesday.
The US will reposition 1,000 soldiers who are now based in Germany to Romania; in addition, 2,000 troops now based in the US will be deployed to Poland and Germany.
The soldiers will be moving “in the coming days” in order to add their support to a similar number of troops who are already in place there, according to Pentagon press secretary John Kirby. The extra troops are part of a Stryker infantry unit which Kirby says is “designed to deploy in short order and to move quickly.”
US troops to reposition, deploy in face of continued Russian buildup along Ukraine border
“This force is designed to deter aggression and enhance our defensive capabilities and frontline allied states and we expect them, as I said, to move in coming days,” Kirby pointed out, adding that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had earlier discussed the repositioning of the troops with the Romanian defense secretary last week.
Meanwhile , Poland will be the destination for most of the 2,000 troops who will be headed to Europe “in the next few days,” Kirby stated. Their number will be made up of troops from the 82nd Airborne Division and the 18th Airborne Corps, who will be establishing joint task force-capable headquarters in Germany.
Both of these units are based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
“Collectively, this force is trained and equipped for a variety of missions — to deter aggression and to reassure and to defend our allies,” Kirby noted.
However, the spokesman also pointed out that these troop movements are “not permanent” and the U.S. will be nimble, adjusting its assets as conditions change, Kirby said, adding that the forces “are not going to fight in Ukraine. They are going to maintain the robust defense of our NATO allies.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin held a press conference after his marathon five-hour meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Tuesday, telling the press that NATO had a history of deceptions, stating that the alliance had promised in the past to expand “not an inch” eastward.
Putin: “They screwed us over”
“They said one thing, they did another,” Putin charged, adding “As people say, they screwed us over, well they simply deceived us.”
But Putin brought up another issue, from the fairly distant past, as one of the reasons that created instability in the region, when the US decided to leave the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, as announced by former President George W. Bush just after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Putin then charged that the US aims to “draw us into armed conflict” over Ukraine by using the country as a jumping-off point for NATO operations.
“Their main task is to contain the development of Russia,” Putin alleged, adding “In this sense, Ukraine itself is simply a tool to achieve this goal. This can be done in different ways.
“Draw us into some kind of armed conflict and force — among other things — their allies in Europe to impose the very tough sanctions against us that are being talked about in the United States today. Or draw Ukraine into NATO, set up strike weapon systems there and encourage some Banderites (Ukrainian nationalists) to resolve the issue of Donbas or Crimea by force of arms. And thus draw us into an armed conflict!”
US already has another 8,500 troops on heightened alert
The major deployments announced on Wednesday by the US are on top of the 8,500 troops that Defense Secretary Austin had already placed on a state of heightened alert in January to help in the defense of NATO allies, the Pentagon spokesman clarified.
France will also be deploying forces to Romania; they will be under the command of NATO, Kirby noted, adding that the US welcomes the announcements made by Spain, Denmark, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands as they mull the deployment of their own troops as reinforcements for NATO’s eastern border.
A senior administration official told reporters that President Biden made the decision after a recommendation by the US Defense Secretary.
“At the president’s direction and following Secretary (Lloyd) Austin’s recommendation, the Department of Defense will reposition certain Europe-based units further east, forward deploy additional U.S.-based units to Europe, and maintain the heightened state of readiness of response forces to meet these commitments,” the official stated.
The news outlet CNN was the first to report the deployment and repositioning of the additional troops.
The announcement of the repositioning and deployment comes just one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin charged that the US and its allies have ignored Russia’s foremost security demands while his country amassed at least 130,000 soldiers along the border with Ukraine.
Last Friday, Biden telegraphed his intention to call for the deployment, saying that he planned to move American troops to Eastern Europe and NATO countries “in the near term.” However, Biden did not give more insight into the exact timing.