According to the Pentagon, President Joe Biden has sent 2,000 US troops to Poland and Germany, with 1,000 more moving from Germany to Romania, proving America’s commitment to NATO’s eastern flank to both allies and rivals amid worries of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Russia retaliated with a vehement rebuke, calling the deployments “destructive” and “unfounded.”
In addition, Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a fresh phone conversation. However, readouts from both countries revealed little progress, with Putin claiming that the West would not budge on Russia’s security concerns, and Johnson voicing grave worry over Russia’s “hostile behavior” on the Ukrainian border, alluding to Putin’s deployment of 100,000 troops there.
The Biden administration is attempting to display US determination without jeopardizing diplomatic attempts to end the problem. Biden has not dispatched military troops to the three Baltic nations on NATO’s eastern frontier, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, all of which were former Soviet republics.
No US soldiers are being dispatched to Ukraine, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday that the administration has ceased using the term “imminent” to describe a Russian invasion since it implies that Washington is aware that Putin has decided to attack. Putin’s motives, according to officials, are yet unknown.
However, Putin has stated that expanding US force numbers in Eastern Europe, as well as the potential of Ukraine joining NATO, are both unacceptable to him. The United States already has tens of thousands of soldiers in Poland, and Romania has a NATO missile defense system that Russia views as a danger. Since Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine in 2014, the US involvement in the region has grown.
The soon-to-deploy US soldiers, according to Pentagon press secretary John Kirby, are meant to temporarily boost US and ally defense positions.
“These are temporary maneuvers,” he remarked, emphasizing that the goal is to reassure friends. Despite US calls to deescalate, Kirby said Russia has continued its buildup even in the preceding 24 hours.
According to a top official in Moscow, the United States’ actions would exacerbate the problem.
In statements published by the Interfax news agency, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko stated, “The baseless harmful acts will only exacerbate military tensions and reduce the scope for political solutions.”
In a conference call with reporters, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba downplayed worries of a Russian attack, but stated that if Russia makes measures that may foreshadow an impending invasion, Ukraine will respond as required.
About 1,700 of the 2,000 U.S. troops moving from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, will be assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division infantry unit, which will be stationed in Poland. The remaining 300 are assigned to the 18th Airborne Corps and will deploy to Germany as a “joint task force-capable headquarters,” according to the Pentagon.
The deployment to Poland, according to Poland’s Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak, is “a powerful gesture of support in reaction to the crisis in Ukraine.”
The 2nd Cavalry Regiment, stationed in Vilseck, Germany, is sending 1,000 US troops to Romania. According to Kirby, they will add to the 900 troops already stationed in Romania.
The goal of the cavalry deployment, according to the Pentagon, is to “deter aggression and boost our defense capabilities in frontline partner states during this moment of increased danger.”
“It’s critical that we send a strong signal to Mr. Putin and the rest of the world” about the United States’ commitment to NATO, according to Kirby.
He stated that France, too, has agreed to send troop reinforcements to Romania under NATO command, and that a number of other NATO European nations are considering committing military to NATO’s eastern border. In a phone chat on Wednesday night, Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron exchanged greetings.
Since late last year, NATO has been beefing up its defenses surrounding its Eastern European partners. For example, Denmark announced the deployment of a frigate and F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania, while Spain announced the deployment of four fighter jets to Bulgaria and three ships to the Black Sea to join NATO naval forces. In April, the Netherlands wants to send two F-35 fighter jets to Bulgaria, as well as a ship and land-based forces for NATO’s Response Force.
Although the US is giving Ukraine with weaponry to defend itself and assuring friends in Eastern Europe that Washington will fulfill its treaty responsibility to defend them if they are attacked, Biden has stated that American soldiers will not be deployed to Ukraine to oppose any Russian incursion.
Because Ukraine is not a member of NATO, the United States is under no responsibility to defend it under international treaties.
The military maneuvers came amid delayed negotiations with Russia over its border expansion. They also add to European suspicions that Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing an invasion of Ukraine. Smaller NATO nations on the alliance’s eastern border are concerned that they may be next.
The Pentagon has also placed some 8,500 U.S.-based troops on high alert for possible deployment to Europe as further reassurance to allies, and officials have hinted that more units might be placed on high alert in the near future. The United States already has 75,000 to 80,000 troops stationed in Europe as permanent forces and as part of regular rotations in areas like Poland.
With no indication of a diplomatic solution, Washington and Moscow have remained at odds over Ukraine. Kirby, on the other hand, verified the legitimacy of a document obtained by a Spanish newspaper, which stated that the US would be prepared to reach an agreement with Russia to reduce tensions over missile installations in Europe if Moscow pulls back from the brink in Ukraine.
El Pais released two documents last week that Kirby said were formal responses from the US and NATO to Russia’s plans for a new European security structure. The State Department of the United States has declined to comment on them.
NATO stated in response to the second paper that it “never comments on suspected leaks.” However, the document closely resembles remarks delivered to the media last week by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who outlined the 30-nation military alliance’s position on Russia’s demands.
The US document, which was labelled as a classified “non-paper,” stated that the US would be open to negotiate “a transparency system to certify the absences of Tomahawk cruise missiles at Aegis Ashore installations in Romania and Poland” with its NATO partners.
This would happen if Russia agreed to “provide comparable transparency measures on two ground-launched missile facilities in Russia of our choice.”
Aegis Ashore is a missile defense system that can protect against short and intermediate-range missiles. Russia claims that the Romanian station could simply be converted to fire cruise missiles instead of interceptors, a claim disputed by the US.
Putin criticized the US and its allies of neglecting Russia’s key security needs in his first public statements on the impasse in more than a month on Tuesday, but said Moscow is eager to keep talking.
Russia attacked Georgia in 2008, seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, and supported a pro-Russian separatist movement in eastern Ukraine with military backing. The fighting in eastern Ukraine has claimed the lives of almost 14,000 people.