Pentagon confirms Europe troop shuffle amid Ukraine standoff
About 2,000 US soldiers will be sent to Poland and Germany this week, while another 1,000 from Germany will be deployed to Romania, the Pentagon said on Wednesday. They will not be under NATO command and are not expected to fight in Ukraine.
Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division will depart Fort Bragg, North Carolina sometime in the next several days, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters, confirming an earlier announcement of the deployment coming from the government in Warsaw. The 2,000 paratroopers are part of the 8,500 troops put on heightened alert last week by US President Joe Biden.
“These forces are not going to fight in Ukraine,” said Kirby. “They are going to ensure the robust defense of our NATO allies.”
The US has accused Russia of amassing troops on the border with Ukraine, with the White House claiming an “invasion” is “imminent.” The government in Kiev, however, said there was no cause for panic, while Moscow rejected the accusations as “fake news.”
“These movements are unmistakable signals to the world that we stand ready to reassure our NATO allies and deter and defend against any aggression,” said Kirby.
He added that the troops will be under US and not NATO command, and that their redeployment is temporary. Washington currently has up to 80,000 troops permanently stationed in Europe, and regularly sends some of them on rotation to Poland and the Baltic states.
Asked if the troops being sent now could be used for an evacuation mission in Ukraine, the Pentagon spokesman said only that the paratroopers “are multi-mission capable and they will be prepared for a range of contingencies.”
The US, UK, and Canadian embassies in Kiev have sent some non-essential staff and families of employees home last week, but the embassies remained open for business, the White House said.
Responding to US accusations, NATO’s build-up in Eastern Europe, and increased deliveries of weapons and other military supplies to Ukraine, Moscow has made public proposals that would address its security concerns and de-escalate tensions in the region.
The US and NATO sent their reply to the Russian proposals last week, asking that they be kept confidential. On Wednesday, however, the Spanish newspaper El Pais published the content of those memos, revealing that the West has rejected all of the key points Moscow described as non-negotiable “red lines” while offering “dialogue” on arms control and other matters.