The US military has put 8,500 troops on standby for possible deployment to Eastern Europe as Russia prepares to invade the Ukraine.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said troops are now on “heightened alert” and will be deployed if required to assist NATO if Russia does invade the Ukraine.
“I want to reinforce that as of now, the decision has been made to put these units on higher alert and higher alert only. Kirby said.
“No decisions have been made to deploy forces from the United States at this time.”
NATO can activate a “NATO response force” (NRF) which would hold around 40,000 troops and would be considered “ground forces” should Russia invade the Ukraine.
US troops could also be on standby to evacuate thousands of their citizens in the Ukraine, officials have confirmed, and US troops are prepared to move into Eastern Europe within 18 to 36 hours.
Kirby added, “What this is about is reassurance to our NATO allies,” and that no troops are intended for deployment to Ukraine.
“We’ve 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,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.