US deploys 3,000 troops to Eastern Europe while Russia threatens Ukraine
About 3,000 US troops will be deployed to locations in Eastern Europe in the coming days in response to ongoing Russian build-up near the border with Ukraine and in Belarus.
The deployments include 1,000 who will move from Germany to Romania and 2,000 from the US who will go to Germany and Poland.
“Upon direction from the President and as recommended by Secretary Austin, the Department of Defense will move certain European-based units further east, deploy additional US-based units to Europe, and maintain the Elevated Force Preparedness to fulfill these commitments. ‘ a senior administration official told CBS News.
The troops moving from Germany to Romania come from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. These forces are equipped with wheeled combat vehicles and will join the 900 troops already in regular rotation in Romania.
About 1,700 of the 2,000 troops arriving from the US are from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with the 82nd Airborne Division. Another 300 are provided by the 18th Airborne Corps. According to a fact sheet released by the Department of Defense, these troops can conduct a “variety of aggression deterrence missions.”
On Wednesday morning, the Pentagon stressed that the troop movement was temporary and they would not be deployed to Ukraine.
“I want to be very clear on something,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday. “These are not permanent steps. They are designed to respond to the current security environment. In addition, these forces will not fight in Ukraine. They will ensure the robust defenses of our NATO allies.”
Kirby also noted that these deployments are in addition to moves already being made by NATO allies in support of Eastern European countries. For example, six American F-15s and US Air Force personnel to fly them. They join the Belgian F-16s as part of a multinational force conducting air patrols along NATO’s eastern flank this week.
The Pentagon has warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin could launch an invasion of Ukraine at any time. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said Friday Russia has amassed over 100,000 ground forces, air forces, naval forces and special forces, as well as cyber and electronic warfare and other capabilities on the Ukrainian border.
Troops are moving within Europe to strengthen countries on NATO’s eastern flank. The US already has thousands of troops in Europe that could be called upon to assist. For example, according to the Pentagon, approximately 100 US service members are stationed in Lithuania, 4,000 in Poland, and 60 in Latvia and Estonia on a rotating basis.
President Biden said no US troops would be sent to Ukraine if Russia invaded, but the administration said it could send troops to the region even before an invasion. The US and its NATO partners have already sent funds to the region as a sign of their support.
Ukraine is not a member of NATO but borders four NATO countries – Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania – which could have repercussions if Russia were to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The US has also placed 8,500 pro-state troops on high alert to deploy to Eastern Europe in the event NATO activates its joint NATO Response Force, but the alliance has not yet activated them.
If both US troops and US troops committed to the NATO Response Force were deployed, more than 8,500 US troops would augment the defense of NATO’s eastern flank.
Sara Cook contributed to this report.