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22 Feb, 2022 21:32

Biden orders troops to countries bordering Russia

The US is shifting forces from elsewhere in Europe to Baltic states to bolster NATO defenses
Biden orders troops to countries bordering Russia

President Joe Biden has announced plans to shift some of the US military’s European forces into Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, reinforcing NATO’s northeastern flank after Russia formally recognized the sovereignty of the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.

Biden announced the military maneuvering on Tuesday, as he gave a scathing speech accusing Russia of trying to absorb its neighbor’s territory and announced new sanctions. The Pentagon reportedly said 800 soldiers will be moved to the Baltic region from Italy, while eight F-35 jets will be shifted to Eastern Europe from Germany. In addition, 32 Apache helicopters will be moved to Poland from Germany and Greece.

The moves come a day after President Vladimir Putin announced Russia’s recognition of the Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) People’s Republics as sovereign nations and suggested troops could be sent on a peacekeeping mission in the breakaway territories. Russian lawmakers on Tuesday granted Putin’s request for permission to potentially deploy forces abroad. Kiev and the EU claim Moscow has already sent its forces to the region.

“He’s setting up a rationale to take more territory by force, in my view,” Biden told reporters at the White House. “And if we listen to his speech last night – and many of you did, I know – he’s setting up a rationale to go much further.”

Biden, who also announced economic sanctions against Moscow, called Putin’s moves in the Donbass “the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.” He added that the US has “no intention of fighting Russia,” but he emphasized that America and its allies “will defend every inch of NATO territory.”

The statement was consistent with previous assertions that US forces would not be deployed to fight Russians in Ukraine, which isn’t a NATO member, but the president said additional sanctions will be imposed if the situation escalates.

“Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belonged to his neighbors?” Biden asked. “This is a flagrant violation of international law and demands a firm response from the international community.”