President Joe Biden said that he plans to deploy a small number of U.S. troops to Eastern Europe in the “near term,” the latest signal from the U.S. amid a possible invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
“I’ll be moving troops to Eastern Europe in the NATO countries in the near term. Not too many,” Biden told reporters at Joint Base Andrews on Friday, Jan. 28.
According to The Hill, the U.S. Defense Department has put 8,500 troops on alert for potential deployment to Eastern Europe to join NATO to counter Russia if it invades Ukraine.
Moscow has staged more than 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine and has recently conducted military drills in Belarus.
Biden’s remarks signal that his administration believes a Russian invasion could be a possibility in the near future.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has not judged that Russian President Vladimir Putin has made up his mind on invading Ukraine.
Earlier on Friday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, “We don’t believe that President Putin has made a final decision to use these forces against Ukraine. He clearly now has that capability.”
In Ukraine, their officials said that an invasion is not imminent. They also took issue with the heightened rhetoric of U.S. officials and the State Department’s decision earlier this week to urge Americans and family members of embassy officials to leave Ukraine.
The White House revealed that Biden stressed during his talk on Thursday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the U.S. and European allies would “respond decisively” in the event of an invasion, and predicted that there was a “distinct possibility” Russia could invade Ukraine in February.
Biden administration officials are asking Russia to pull back its troops following the Russian deployment of troops at its border with Ukraine.
The United States has warned it would levy economic sanctions if Russia chooses to invade Ukraine.
The U.S. has asked the UN Security Council to hold a meeting on Russian aggression towards Ukraine on Monday.