US sends 2,000 troops to strengthen NATO defenses in Europe

US President Joe Biden ordered the deployment of 2,000 more troops to bolster NATO’s defenses in Europe, bolstering the alliance’s response to a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.

John Kirby, a spokesman for the Pentagon, announced the move during a press conference with reporters Wednesday. It involved sending about 2,000 troops from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Poland and Germany – and redeploying about 1,000 troops from Germany to Romania.

“President Biden has made it clear that the United States will respond to the growing threat to Europe’s security and stability. Our commitment to Article 5 of Nato and collective defense remains principled,” said Kirby, referring to the alliance’s principle of reciprocity.

“These are not long-term moves,” he said, adding that they “are designed to respond to the current security environment. Moreover, these forces will not enter the war in Ukraine.”

As the Russian military has ramped up construction along the Ukrainian border in recent weeks, Biden has put 8,500 troops on standby for deployment to Nato’s eastern flank and is discussing the details of a possible move. with US allies.

Even as diplomatic avenues remain open, US officials have warned that Russia continues to increase its military preparations, including sending more troops along the Ukrainian border in Belarus. and naval operations in the Mediterranean.

“There may soon be additional posture decisions to be announced, including movements that are part of ongoing military exercises. This is not the sum total of deterrence actions we will take,” Kirby said.

The deployment of 3,000 US troops – in addition to 8,500 troops on standby – comes at a delicate time in negotiations led by Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, to appease situation.

The United States has also offered Russia assurances about a European-based missile defense system and promised to limit the deployment of troops to Ukraine.

These proposals, outlined in a document sent by the US to the Kremlin last week, include a “transparency mechanism” to convince Russia that its Aegis Ashore missile defense system, based in Russia Romania and Poland, not equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles.

President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly expressed concern that Aegis launchers could be used to attack Russia or shoot down its intercontinental ballistic missiles, rather than those launched by Iran or other countries. Other rogues shot, as Washington insists.

The US said it was ready to discuss transparency for its Aegis missile defense complexes if Poland and Romania agreed and “as long as Russia offers reciprocal transparency measures for the two countries.” ground-launched missile base of our choice in Russia.”

It added that it was ready to discuss transparency measures and “reciprocal commitments” by the US and Russia to “refrain from the deployment of ground-attack missile systems and standing forces”. on a combat mission” on the territory of Ukraine.

Washington’s proposals come as a response to Russian requests, made in December, about its security concerns, including further expansion of Nato.

The US document and an accompanying Nato article were first published by the Spanish newspaper El País but confirmed by Washington.

“We have not made this document public. but now it confirms to the whole world what we’ve always said,” said Kirby. “There is no light between our public statements and our private discussions.”

The ideas were first raised during meetings last month between US, NATO and Russian officials. The Biden administration has said it is ready to engage with Russia on arms control, military posture and transparency measures as long as Putin deescalates tensions with Ukraine.

Moscow has deployed more than 100,000 troops and heavy weapons along the Ukrainian border in what US and British officials say an invasion may be imminent.

The US and NATO have rejected Russia’s request for a ban on further expansion and withdrawal of NATO forces from the alliance’s former communist bloc members. Nato said that the backup forces sent to the Baltic states and Poland after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 were small and temporary, and thus in line with the country’s commitments to Moscow.

Ukraine’s government said it would welcome a reciprocal commitment by the United States and Russia to refrain from stationing missiles or troops in Ukraine.

“I would like to note that, while the US does not have missiles in Ukraine and its combat units in Ukraine, Russia has both,” said Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister. “And if this proposal is accepted on a reciprocal basis, that means Russia has to withdraw. So no, we are not opposed to the idea of ​​Russia withdrawing its forces, personnel and weapons from Ukrainian territory.”

Additional reporting by Guy Chazan in Berlin and Roman Olearchyk in Kyiv

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