WASHINGTON (Fwrd Axis) — The United States is putting 8,500 troops on ‘heightened alert’ amid Russia’s continued military presence along the country’s border.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the troops to assist with the defense of NATO allies, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said during a press conference on Monday.
“I want to reinforce that as of now, the decision has been made to put these units on higher alert and higher alert only,” said Kirby. “No decisions have been made to deploy forces from the United States at this time.”
Russia has 100,000 troops on the border of Ukraine, mounting fears that an invasion could be on the horizon. Conversations are underway with NATO countries that could receive U.S. military forces to assist with holding off Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troops.
President Joe Biden spoke with European leaders in a virtual call on Monday about Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s border. The White House said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Polish President Andrzej Duda, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi were all on the call.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at Monday’s briefing there would “certainly” be a discussion about pending sanctions.
“We have been consulting with allies and deployments and refining plans for all scenarios,” said Psaki. “We have always said we would reinforce our allies on the eastern flank and those conversations and discussions have certainly been part of what our national security officials have been discussing with their counterparts now for several weeks.”
Biden was briefed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his national security team over the weekend at Camp David. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, was on the call according to the White House.
In an advisory on Sunday, the State Department issued a travel warning that described it as Level 4, or “do not travel,” which advises Americans not to go to Ukraine. The advisory cited “the increased threats of Russian military action.”
“The U.S. government will not be in a position to evacuate us, citizens,” the State Department said. “So U.S. citizens currently present in Ukraine [should] plan accordingly, including by availing themselves of commercial options, should they choose to leave the country and commercial options are available now.”
This is a developing story and will be added with more information as it becomes available.