The Hill- The Pentagon is deploying and repositioning over 3,000 troops to bolster Eastern European allies, the first such movement as the U.S. looks to bolster NATO’s capabilities in the region amid growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Defense Department press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday that the agency will deploy 2,000 troops stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. to Germany and Poland “in the next few days.”
Separately, an additional 1,000 troops currently stationed in Germany will be repositioned to Romania.
“I want to be very clear about something: These are not permanent moves,” Kirby said.
“They are moves designed to respond to the current security environment. Moreover, these forces are not going to fight in Ukraine. They are going to ensure the robust defense of our NATO allies,” he continued.
News of the deployment was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Russia has amassed upward of 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine, and the Biden administration is now warning that a military incursion of Ukraine is imminent.
The Pentagon last month put 8,500 troops on high alert to deploy, largely to bolster NATO’s response force — a multinational force of about 40,000 troops that can deploy on short notice. Kirby said these troops have not been deployed and remain on high alert status.
However, the president has been clear that no U.S. forces will be deployed directly to Ukraine. Similarly, NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said last month that no forces from the alliance will be deployed to Kyiv.
The forces being deployed to Germany and Poland are comprised of 1,700 forces from the from the 82nd Airborne Division and 300 forces 18th Airborne Corps, according to a fact sheet released from the Pentagon.
Meanwhile, the troops being repositioned to Romania from Germany are part of an Infantry Stryker squadron, which is designed to deploy in short order. Those forces will augment more than 900 U.S. service members already in rotation in Romania.
Kirby said the troops are being sent under bilateral agreements with Poland, Germany, and Romania, and will remain under U.S command.
—Updated at 11:29 a.m.
Ukraine tensions: Russia condemns destructive US troop increase in Europe
BBC- Russia has condemned a US decision to send extra troops to Europe to support its Nato allies amid continuing fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Moscow said it was a “destructive” step which heightened tension and reduced the scope for a political solution.
The Pentagon said 2,000 US troops would be sent from North Carolina to Poland and Germany, and a further 1,000 already in Germany would go to Romania.
Russia has some 100,000 troops near Ukraine. It denies planning to invade.
The tensions come eight years after Russia annexed Ukraine’s southern Crimea peninsula and backed a bloody rebellion in the eastern Donbas region.
Moscow accuses the Ukrainian government of failing to implement the Minsk agreement – an international deal to restore peace to the east, where Russian-backed rebels control swathes of territory and at least 14,000 people have been killed since 2014.
Responding to US President Joe Biden’s decision to deploy extra troops to Europe this week, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said it was a “destructive” and an “unjustified” step.
Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Grushko added that it would “delight” the Ukrainian authorities, who would continue sabotaging the Minsk agreement “with impunity”.
The Pentagon earlier said the American troops being deployed would not fight in Ukraine – but would ensure the defence of Washington’s allies.
Their deployment is in addition to the 8,500 troops the Pentagon put on alert last month to be ready to deploy to Europe if needed.
“It’s important that we send a strong signal to Mr Putin and, frankly, to the world that Nato matters to the United States and it matters to our allies,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday.
But on the question of alleged invasion plans by Mr Putin, he said: “We still don’t believe he’s made a decision to further invade Ukraine.”
He also said a US proposal “leaked to a European news outlet” was genuine. He appeared to be referring to a story in Spain’s El País newspaper about a US offer of talks with Russia on cutting back on nuclear weaponry and on trust-building measures in exchange for reducing tensions over Ukraine.
Meanwhile, intense diplomatic efforts continued to try to find a political solution to the crisis, amid fears it could blow up to a full-scale war in Europe.
Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed Ukraine with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson by phone on Wednesday.
Mr Johnson told Mr Putin “all European democracies have a right to aspire to Nato membership”, a Downing Street statement said. Russia opposes Ukraine joining the security alliance.
Mr Putin drew attention to Nato’s reluctance to respond appropriately to Russia’s justified concerns, the Kremlin said in a statement (in Russian).
The Russian president earlier accused the US of trying to draw his country into a war in Ukraine. He said America’s goal was to use a confrontation as a pretext to impose more sanctions on Russia.
Separately, President Biden and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron “affirmed their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the White House said in a statement.
In a phone call, they reviewed “ongoing co-ordination on both diplomacy and preparations to impose swift and severe economic costs on Russia should it further invade Ukraine,” the statement said.