The White House has pulled the trigger on a fresh troop deployment which marks the first amid the still ratcheting Russia-Ukraine crisis, days after President Biden announced he would bolster US forces in East European allied countries. Senior defense officials have confirmed that 3,000 American troops have been ordered to depart to Poland, Romania, and Germany - after last month they were placed on "alert" as part of 'prepare to deploy' status.
"Mr. Biden is sending roughly 2,000 troops from Fort Bragg, N.C., to Poland and Germany this week and also repositioning about 1,000 troops that are part of a Germany-based infantry Stryker squadron to Romania, on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s eastern flank closest to Russia, the officials said," according to details in The Wall Street Journal.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had reportedly begun intense discussions with European allies last week in preparation for the new deployment, particularly in talks with defense counterparts in Romania, Germany, and Poland. Interestingly, it was also revealed that the administration had approached Hungary, but on Tuesday Viktor Orbán showed up in Moscow to meet with Putin, where to two pledged deepening cooperation and inked a new deal for discounted natural gas delivery.
Critically, as the WSJ notes, the 3,000 newly deployed troops are not authorized to enter Ukraine, at a moment diplomacy and dialogue is still happening between NATO and the Russia, albeit is icy and characterized by continued accusations and counter-accusations:
While a few hundred American military trainers and special operations forces are inside Ukraine, none of the new forces have been authorized to enter the country, and all of the deployments are expected to be temporary, the officials said.
A senior defense official was quoted in the report as saying, "They are trained and equipped for a variety of missions during this period of elevated risk." The official added,
The deployments also are "meant to deter the threat against the alliance. We are literally willing to put skin in the game."
Biden sending 2,000 troops to Germany, 1,000 to Romania. This while complaining that Germany doesn’t feel particularly threatened by Russia, and it’s not like US soldiers will go into Ukraine. US foreign policy is pathological, just need to look “tough.” https://t.co/8GIsXgYKJY— Richard Hanania (@RichardHanania) February 2, 2022
And further, after last month's controversial US Embassy staff reduction, which was met with frustration and anger by Ukraine's government, which called it "premature" and unnecessary at this point, Washington appears to be concerned over another 'Afghan evacuation chaos' scenario in the event of a Russian military offensive on Ukraine.
"Should that be needed, the official said, the troops are unlikely to be sent inside Ukraine to do so and instead would facilitate an evacuation operation by land along the Ukrainian border," the WSJ writes.
Pentagon says "Mr. Putin continues to add forces" in Western Russia, Belarus, and in Crimea...
At the same time on Wednesday, Ukraine officials are busy reiterating that the current Russian military build up is as yet not enough for the invasion that the West is so worried about. President Zelensky himself has for the past week been stressing that Washington must calm down and not inflate the true nature of the threat.