The Pentagon has raised the alert level for 8,500 troops who may be deployed to Europe as part of a NATO “response force” amid growing fears that Russia will intervene militarily in Ukraine. President Joe Biden met with important European leaders, emphasising the United States’ commitment to its allies in the region.
On Monday, the President placed US forces in Europe on high alert, signalling that he no longer believes Russian President Vladimir Putin will back down from a threat to invade neighbouring Ukraine, as Biden has stated.
Beyond Ukraine’s future, the credibility of a NATO alliance is at stake. The NATO alliance is crucial to US defence strategy but Putin sees it as a Cold War relic and a threat to Russian security.
The situation will put Biden’s ability to form a cohesive allied front against Putin to the test.
About 8,500 US troops are on standby for possible deployment — not to Ukraine, but to NATO territory in Eastern Europe as part of an alliance force aimed to indicate a cohesive commitment to prevent any further Putin aggression, according to Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.
Russia denies that an invasion is in the works. It claims that the accusations levelled by the West are really a smokescreen for NATO’s own planned provocations. High-stakes diplomacy has failed to yield any results in recent days and major parties involved in the issue are making steps that imply that they are afraid of conflict.
Biden held an 80-minute video chat with other European leaders to discuss Russia’s military buildup and possible invasion reactions.
The White House stated that the leaders addressed ways to prevent additional Russian aggression, “including plans to inflict tremendous consequences and heavy economic costs on Russia for such actions, as well as to enhance security on NATO’s eastern flank,”.
The State Department had ordered all American officials in the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv to leave the country a day earlier, and it said that non-essential embassy staff might leave at the expense of the US government.
Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, called the US decision “premature” and a sign of “extreme caution.” He claimed that Russia was instilling fear in Ukrainians and outsiders in order to destabilise the country.
The United Kingdom announced that it, too, will be removing some diplomats and their family from its Kyiv embassy. Although an invasion is not a foregone conclusion, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that “the intelligence is pretty bleak.”
Ordering even a small number of American troops to be ready for possible deployment to Europe is supposed to show the US’ commitment to its NATO partners, particularly those in Eastern Europe who feel threatened by Russia and fear Putin may target them.