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U.S. Places 8,500 Troops on Alert Amid Rising Tensions with Russia


Over the weekend, the Pentagon requested 8,500 troops be put on higher alert so that they could be sent to Europe as part of NATO’s “response force” in anticipation of a Russian military attack against Ukraine.

In his discussions with top European leaders, President Joe Biden underscored U.S. solidarity with the region’s allies, LA times reported.

Increasing the alert status of U.S. forces in Europe might be a sign that Russian President Vladimir Putin is less likely to back down from any threat to invade neighboring Ukraine, as Biden has described it.

In addition to Ukraine, NATO’s credibility is at stake, which is integral to US defense policy, but is viewed as a Cold War relic and a threat by Russian President Putin.

For Biden, this crisis is a major test of his ability to assemble allies in opposition to Putin.

A total of 8,500 U.S. troops are on alert for possible deployment, according to Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.

The Russian government denies that it is planning an invasion.

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NATO’s planned provocations are just a cover for Western accusations, the country said.

There has been high-stakes diplomacy over the past few days, but no breakthroughs have been made, and key players are moving in a way that suggests the start of the war is imminent.

It has been Biden’s goal to strike a balance between efforts meant to frighten Putin and those that might give him an opening to use the vast military forces at his disposal.

A video call with several European leaders lasted 80 minutes during which Biden addressed Russia’s building up of military capability and the potential response to an invasion.

“I had a very, very, very good meeting — total unanimity with all the European leaders,” Biden said. “We’ll talk about it later.”

The White House said the leaders discussed ways to deter future Russian aggression as well as imposing massive economic costs on the country if it continues on its current course.

U.S. State Department ordered family members of all U.S. diplomats at the US Embassy in Kiev to leave the country, and it said nonessential embassy staff could leave at American government expense.

Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, said the U.S. decision was “premature” and a sign of “excessive caution.”

He claimed that Russia was using panic as a stratagem to undermine Ukraine.

Britain, too, has announced the removal of some diplomats and their dependents from its embassy in Kiev.

“The intelligence is pretty gloomy,” said Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister.

By ordering a contingent of U.S. troops to be prepared for deployment to Europe shows U.S. commitment to supporting its NATO allies, especially those in Eastern Europe who feel threatened by Russia and worry that Putin might target them.

“What this is about is reassurance to our NATO allies,” Kirby said. He said no troops will be sent to Ukraine, but Washington has assured of continuing U.S. support and weapons supplies.

As a result of the Pentagon’s move, which was ordered by Vice President Biden and recommended by Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, other NATO members have taken steps to strengthen a defensive presence in Eastern European nations.

Danish warplanes and a frigate are going to Lithuania from Denmark; Spain is sending four fighter jets to Bulgaria with three ships to join NATO naval forces in the Black Sea, and France has troops ready to go to Romania if needed.

According to a statement published before Kirby’s announcement, the Netherlands will send two F-35 fighters to Bulgaria in April and will put ship and ground units on standby for NATO’s Response Force.

In regards to activation of the Response Force, comprised of 40,000 troops from multiple nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has not made a decision.

An extra-high alert force of about 20,000 troops was added to that force in 2014 through the creation of the “spearhead force.”

Kirby said the United States will contribute a range of military units if NATO decides to activate the Response Force.

“It is a NATO call to make,” Kirby stated.

“For our part, we wanted to make sure that we were ready in case that call should come. And that means making sure that units that would contribute to it are as ready as they can be on as short a notice as possible.”

Several units will be ready for deployment within five days, he said.

Unspecified numbers of the 8,500 troops could be deployed to Europe for purposes other than assisting NATO, he said.

They may be deployed in an emergency if other circumstances arise, he said, without providing further details.

NATO released a statement summarizing the steps already described by its members prior to the U.S. announcement.

Reiterating these under the NATO banner appears to demonstrate solidarity.

A war of information has accompanied the standoff in Ukraine, with the West ramping up its rhetoric.

There are approximately 100,000 Russian troops gathered near Ukraine’s border, demanding that NATO promise that Ukraine will never be allowed to join, as well as restricting other actions, such as stationing alliance troops in former Soviet countries.

As part of its deterrent strategy in the Baltic Sea region, NATO said Monday it is bolstering its deterrence force.

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Allied forces will “take all necessary measures to protect and defend all allies,” said Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general of NATO.

“We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment, including through strengthening our collective defense.”

The escalating tensions are the result of NATO and the U.S., not Russia, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“All this is happening not because of what we, Russia, are doing. This is happening because of what NATO, the U.S. is doing,” Peskov said to reporters.

NATO announced their decision as European foreign ministers showed fresh unity in support of Ukraine, hoping to make up for disagreements about how best to confront any Russian aggression.

The ministers announced that the EU has stepped up preparations for sanctions, and stressed that “any further military aggression by Russia against Ukraine will have massive consequences and severe costs.”

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