(Fwrd Axis) — President Joe Biden said Friday night he will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe and NATO countries “in the near term,” but did not elaborate when that would be before adding that the number would be “not a lot.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said earlier Friday the U.S. troops on high alert had not yet been deployed to the region.
“We don’t believe that President Putin has made a final decision to use these forces against Ukraine,” Austin said.
“I’ll be moving U.S. troops to Eastern Europe and the NATO countries in the near term. Not a lot,” Biden said Friday at Joint Base Andrews after returning from a trip to Pittsburgh.
The news comes after Russia insisted that it will not invade Ukraine following Biden saying there is a “distinct possibility” Russia could invade next month. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the country does not want a war but not be “rudely attacked”.
Russia has 125,000 troops on the Ukraine border but has denied planning an attack despite making several demands. Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday but Zelenskyy has downplayed any threat of an impending war with Russia
“President Biden said that there is a distinct possibility that the Russians could invade Ukraine in February,” White House National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement.
Zelenskyy said he and Biden discussed “diplomatic efforts on de-escalation and agreed on joint actions for the future”. There were reports of the call “not going well” with Zelenskyy and Biden disagreeing about Russia’s intentions to invade.
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff warned Russia against any sort of invasion, saying consequences would be severe.
“We are ready, capable, and prepared to uphold our obligation under treaty to NATO, as mentioned by the secretary,” Milley said. “An attack against one NATO ally is an attack against all.”