WASHINGTON – The Pentagon will deploy 3,000 troops to Germany, Poland and Romania as tensions rise with Russia over Ukraine, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Wednesday.
The troops are not among the 8,500 placed on heightened alert last week to support a NATO quick-reaction force if it is activated, Kirby said. More troops have been placed on alert, Kirby said, declining to indicate how many.
The 3,000 will bolster allied forces in Germany, Poland and Romania. They'll come from units in the USA and Europe.
"These are not permanent moves," Kirby said. "They are 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 four NATO allies."
Russian President Vladimir Putin has massed troops on Ukraine’s border for months, raising concerns of an imminent incursion or full-scale invasion. He wants assurances that Ukraine will not be allowed to join NATO and other concessions from the West.
US troops will deploy from Germany, Fort Bragg
The first group of 1,000 U.S. troops will be moved from their base in Germany to Romania, Kirby said. It is a mounted cavalry unit with Stryker combat vehicles, Kirby said. There are 900 U.S. troops already there.
The majority of the 2,000 troops from the USA will be sent to Poland and include infantry soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. A headquarters group will be sent to Germany.
More forces may be sent, Kirby said.
"This is not the sum total of the deterrence actions we will take or those to reassure our allies," he said.
The Pentagon estimated there are more than 100,000 Russian troops near the Ukrainian border. More have arrived in recent days, Kirby said.
Last week, Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, predicted carnage among troops and civilians if Russia unleashes the infantry, artillery and air power it has massed near Ukraine.
“It would be horrific,” Milley said. “It would be terrible.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Putin hasn't made a final decision about an invasion but is prepared to launch one.
“He clearly now has that capability,” Austin said.
Psaki on troops, Josh Hawley stance
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday the decision to move troops to Germany, Poland and Romania was not based on any events in the past couple of days and had been under discussion with allies for weeks.
Psaki noted President Joe Biden has been clear with Putin that if “Russia stays on an escalatory path, which they clearly have, we will make force posture adjustments to deter and defend against any aggression.”
“This is not troops that will go into Ukraine. They're not fighting in Ukraine,” Psaki said. “This is the United States abiding by our commitments … to support, reassure our partners in the region.”
Psaki pushed back against comments made by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who called on the Biden administration to drop support for Ukraine to become a member of NATO.
Hawley said in a statement Wednesday that although the United States should “urgently deliver” assistance to Ukraine to defend against a buildup of Russia’s military, the national “interest is not so strong, however, as to justify committing the United States to go to war with Russia over Ukraine’s fate.”
“Russia’s buildup on Ukraine’s borders makes apparent just how important it is for the United States to be deliberate about its commitments abroad,” Hawley said.
Psaki said the United States stands up for the sovereignty of other countries and against efforts to invade or take territory.
“If you are just digesting Russian misinformation and parroting Russian talking points, you are not aligned with long-standing bipartisan American values,” she said. “That applies to Sen. Hawley, but it also applies to others who may be parroting the talking points of Russian propagandist leaders.”
Every president gets his rocks off by sending young men to their deaths. Let's go Brandon!