Washington announces deployment of several thousand more troops in Poland and Romania in a sign of support for allies on NATO’s eastern flank, amid fears of a Russian attack on Ukraine.
Polish and US troops at a 2021 joint military drill in Drawsko Pomorskie, Poland. Photo: EPA-EFE/MARCIN BIELECKI
US President Joe Biden has ordered the immediate sending of some 2,000 more troops to Poland and Germany, while at the same time, roughly 1,000 US soldiers now in Germany will be sent to Romania, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.
The deployments to Eastern Europe are a show of support to NATO allies feeling threatened by Russia’s military moves near Ukraine, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said. The troops are expected to deploy “in the coming days,” US officials told CNN.
However, despite the US remaining committed to supplying Ukraine with defensive weapons against a possible Russian attack, Kirby said: “These forces are not going to fight in Ukraine.”
The US move comes as talks stall with Russia over its military build-up on Ukraine’s borders.
It underscores growing fears that Russia is poised to invade Ukraine and fears of smaller NATO allies on its eastern flank that Russia’s behaviour is becoming unpredictable, rendering them possible next targets.
Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak posted on Twitter on Wednesday that his country welcomes an additional 1,700 US troops that would boost some 5,000 soldiers from NATO allies already stationed there. “It is a strong signal of solidarity in response to the situation in Ukraine”, Blaszczak twitted.
While visiting Ukraine’s capital Kiev on Tuesday, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki promised to supply military equipment to Ukraine, including tens of thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition, light mortars, man-portable air defence systems and surveillance drones. Poland also pledged to help Ukraine with gas if need be.
In Romania, where the US is sending additional 1,000 troops, NATO already has a multinational land force of up to 4,000 troops.
As US-Russia talks over Ukraine face no visible way forward, the Pentagon has put some 8,500 US-based troops on higher alert for possible deployment to Europe. The US stations 75,000 to 80,000 troops in Europe permanently.
US President Biden has been adamant that he does not plan to put US troops on Ukrainian soil.
The UK and France have recently pledged also to step up their presence on NATO’s eastern flank. Various NATO allies have already sent defensive arms to Ukraine, with the visible exception of Germany.
Russia is seeking a permanent guarantee that Ukraine will never join NATO plus the withdrawal of some NATO troops and equipment from existing NATO members Romania and Poland. NATO insists it cannnot permanently exclude any country from possible membership.
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