President Biden has ordered the deployment of 3,000 American troops to Europe amid a gathering of more than 100,000 Russian forces around Ukraine’s borders, according to the Pentagon on Wednesday.
About 2,000 of the troops will come from the U.S., and an additional 1,000 will deploy from within Europe, according to the Pentagon.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby announced the move during a press conference on Wednesday.
“The current situation demands that we reinforce the deterrent and defensive posture on NATO’s eastern flank. President Biden has been clear that the United States will respond to the growing threat to Europe’s security and stability. Our commitment to NATO Article 5 and collective defense remains ironclad,” he said.
“As part of this commitment and to be prepared for a range of contingencies, the United States will soon move additional forces to Romania, Poland and Germany,” he said.
The 2,000 forces coming from the U.S. will include components of an infantry brigade combat team from the 82nd Airborne Division in North Carolina, and a joint task force-capable headquarters from from the 18th Airborne Corps. The deployment is happening over the next few days, Kirby said.
The 1,000 forces already in Europe will come from Germany and head to Romania over the coming days, and will include a Stryker squadron to augment the 900 U.S. forces currently in Romania.
Kirby stressed that the deployments were not “permanent moves.”
“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 said. “We will adjust our posture as those conditions evolve.”
Kirby added, “These movements are unmistakable signals to the world that we stand ready to reassure our NATO allies and deter and defend against any aggression.”
He said there are still 8,500 troops in the U.S. who have been placed on “heightened alert,” should NATO activate its response force “as needed for other contingencies as directed by the secretary or by President [Joe] Biden.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley have not ruled out the use of U.S. forces to conduct a non-combatant evacuation operation out of Ukraine, where there are an estimated 30,000 Americans.
The deployments come as American and its Western allies fear that Russia will invade Ukraine in the coming weeks, due to a massive Russian troop deployment around Ukraine’s borders. Russian officials say they do not intend to invade Ukraine, but Biden Administration officials have said Russia could move at any moment.
Ukraine’s leaders have slammed the Biden administration for suggesting Russia may launch an “imminent” attack on Ukraine, and have urged for calm amongst its citizens.