The Biden administration on Tuesday ordered more troops into Eastern Europe amid fears Russia will invade Ukraine.
In a speech, President Joe Biden said he would send American troops already based in Europe to the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as Poland.
“Biden directed Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III to move forces within the U.S. European Command’s area of operations to the Baltic Republics, Poland, and Ukraine’s southeastern flank,” said the Department of Defense in a news release. Those forces “will move within a week,” the release added.
Specifically, the DOD “ordered an infantry battalion task force of about 800 soldiers to deploy from Italy to the Baltic region” and also “approved the movement of up to eight F-35 Lightning II aircraft from Germany to operating locations on NATO’s eastern flank.”
Austin ordered some 8,500 U.S. service members to be in a heightened state of readiness if NATO actives its rapid-action forces.
About 20 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters will deploy from Germany to the Baltic states, while 12 Apaches will move from Greece to Poland.
“These additional personnel are being repositioned to reassure our NATO allies, deter any potential aggression against NATO member states, and train with host-nation forces,” DOD officials said in a written statement, according to the release. All forces are under the command of Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters, the commander of U.S. European Command.
Overall, there are about 90,000 U.S. troops stationed across Europe, according to the DOD. Earlier this month, the Pentagon ordered all American forces in Ukraine to depart the country amid Russian forces having allegedly massed more than 150,000 troops along its borders.
Biden’s speech, which included an announcement that he would sanction Russian sovereign debt and two banks, came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would recognize the independence of two breakaway Ukrainian regions. Putin also signed an order that authorized sending in Russian troops for what he called peacekeeping purposes.
At the same time, Biden said that if Russia decides to take further action, his administration will use tougher sanctions. The president also suggested that gas and energy prices would go up but claimed, without elaborating, that his administration is working to mitigate such problems.
Despite Putin’s rhetoric, there was still no clear indication of whether he plans to follow it up with a massed assault on Ukraine with the troops and heavy weapons gathered near the border.
On Wednesday, Ukraine declared a state of emergency and told its citizens in Russia to leave the country, while Moscow began evacuating its Kyiv embassy and consulates in other Ukrainian cities.
“Predicting what might be the next step of Russia, the separatists or the personal decisions of the Russian president … I cannot say,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters.
From The Epoch Times