Feb 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden sending thousands of troops to Eastern Europe

Biden at NATO

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden has formally approved the deployment of thousands of troops to shore up NATO defenses in Eastern Europe "in the coming days," the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: It's the first major U.S. troop movement directed by the commander in chief in response to Russia's massive military buildup on Ukraine's borders.

  • Biden has ruled out sending troops to Ukraine itself, which is not a NATO member, but has approved over $600 million of security assistance to Kyiv over the past year.
  • The president had previously said troop deployments to Eastern Europe would only occur if Russia invaded Ukraine, but appeared to change his position as the situation continued to escalate.

Details: 2,000 U.S. troops based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina will be deployed to Germany and Poland, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby announced Wednesday. An additional 1,000 U.S. troops already based in Germany will reposition to Romania.

  • The troops will be under U.S. command, not NATO command, and could be augmented by additional force deployments in the coming days and months.
  • Kirby noted that other NATO countries, including the U.K., France and Denmark, have also taken steps to shore up the alliance's eastern flank.

What they're saying: "These are not permanent moves. They are moves designed to respond to the current security environment. Moreover, these forces are not going to fight in Ukraine," Kirby said at a press conference.

  • "These movements are unmistakable signals to the world that we stand ready to reassure our NATO allies and deter and defend against any aggression," he added.
  • Kirby repeatedly declined to say whether the deployment was in response to fears that Russia could attack a NATO country, stressing that Vladimir Putin's intentions are unclear and that armed conflict can be "unpredictable."

The big picture: The Pentagon separately placed a total of 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to Europe last week as part of NATO's rapid-response force, which has not yet been activated.

Editor's note: This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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