Pentagon puts 8,500 soldiers on ‘high alert’ amid tensions in Ukraine

Politics

The move signals a turnaround for the Biden administration as the United States and NATO allies prepare for possible Russian military action.

Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby said Monday that most of the 8,500 soldiers would participate in a NATO response force that could be activated soon. Stephanie Reynolds/The New York Times

WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has put 8,500 US troops on “high alert” for a possible deployment to Eastern Europe, as NATO and the United States prepare for a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said most of the 8,500 soldiers would participate in a NATO response force that could be activated soon. The remaining personnel will be part of a typical US response to the deepening crisis, Defense Department officials said, most likely to provide reassurance to US allies in Eastern Europe who fear that Russia’s plan for Ukraine to the Baltic and It can spread to other countries in NATO. The so-called eastern edge.

“It is quite clear that the Russians have no intention of de-escalating tensions at this time,” Kirby told a news conference on Monday. “However, it is an assurance to our NATO allies.”

Kirby’s announcement comes after The New York Times reported Sunday that President Joe Biden was considering deploying several thousand US troops, as well as warships and aircraft, to NATO allies in the Baltics and Eastern Europe.

The moves signal a major pivot for the Biden administration, which until recently was taking a restrained stance on Ukraine for fear of provoking Russia. But as Russian President Vladimir Putin intensifies his threatening actions toward Ukraine, and talks between US and Russian officials fail to discourage him, the Biden administration is moving away from its previous strategy.

At the same time, the administration has been insisting that the United States has no intention of going to war with Russia over the issue. Since Ukraine is not in NATO, the alliance is not bound by its treaty to come under Ukraine’s defence. Russia’s mobilization of more than 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s border and NATO’s response have nonetheless raised fears of a war that could escalate.

“I don’t think anyone wants to see another war on the European continent,” Kirby said.

At a meeting Saturday at Camp David for the presidency in Maryland, senior Pentagon officials presented Biden with a number of options that would move US military assets much closer to Russia’s door, administration officials said.

Kirby told reporters that most troops were put on high alert, including combat brigades, medical, aviation, transportation, intelligence and surveillance forces. He declined to identify the specific units, saying the families were being informed on Monday.

“High alert” means troops are now on a tight leash by Defense Department officials if deployment orders come quickly. In some cases, officials said, units that were ready to deploy within 10 days should now be ready to deploy within five days.

Although the United States may send some of these troops directly to Eastern European members of NATO, such as Poland or Romania, who request some form of auxiliary forces, Kirby said that most troops are kept on high alert, If activated, will go towards one. Special NATO unit.

That unit, the NATO Response Force, or NRF, is a 40,000-man multinational force made up of troops from land, air, maritime and special operations forces whose purpose is to respond quickly to emergencies.

“This is significant because it signals that the US is not only doing so unilaterally but is preparing to provide its forces to the NRF,” said Frederick Hodges, a former top US military commander in Europe. European Policy Analysis Center.

In 2014, after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine, the coalition deployed about half of this unit, or about 20,000 troops, to “very high readiness” for the most urgent missions.

The NATO response force reports to General Todd Wolters, a four-star US Air Force officer who is the coalition’s top military commander.

This article is originally from . appeared in the new York Times,

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