WASHINGTON (Fwrd Axis) — The United States will send about 3,000 troops to Eastern Europe in an effort to help defend European allies amid Russia’s standoff with Ukraine, the Biden administration announced Wednesday.
The troops will be deployed “in the coming days”, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said.
“This force is designed to deter aggression and enhance our defensive capabilities and frontline allied states and we expect them, as I said, to move in coming days,” he said.
The United States will also send 2,000 troops from the U.S. to Europe “in the next few days” with most of them being sent to Poland.
“Collectively, this force is trained and equipped for a variety of missions — to deter aggression and to reassure and to defend our allies,” Kirby said.
CNN was first to report the deployment of the troops.
The deployments are separate from the 8,500 troops Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin placed on high alert last month to assist with the defense of NATO allies, Kirby said.
President Joe Biden made the decision after a recommendation by Lloyd, according to a senior administration official.
“At the president’s direction and following Secretary [Lloyd] Austin’s recommendation, the Department of Defense will reposition certain Europe-based units further east, forward deploy additional U.S.-based units to Europe, and maintain the heightened state of readiness of response forces to meet these commitments,” the official said.
After the news broke, the reaction hit Capitol Hill and Sen. Josh Hawley called the move a mistake.
“The United States should urgently deliver to Ukraine assistance it needs to defend itself against Russia’s military buildup and other threats,” Hawley wrote. “Our interest is not so strong, however, as to justify committing the United States to go to war with Russia over Ukraine’s fate. Rather, we must aid Ukraine in a manner that aligns with the American interests at stake and preserves our ability to deny Chinese hegemony in the Indo-Pacific.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki shot back at Hawley, saying he was “parroting Russian talking points”.
“I would not read this as a decision made based on any events over the last 48 hours or a couple of days,” she said. “We’ve been in discussion and under discussion with our partners and allies in the region, where these troops are going, for several weeks now.”
The news comes after Biden said last Friday he planned to move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe and NATO countries “in the near term,” but did not elaborate when that would be.