WASHINGTON – The Pentagon said on Monday (Jan 31) that it is in active negotiations with Eastern European allies about possible US force deployments to NATO’s eastern flank, as Washington seeks to reassure NATO members concerned about a Russian military buildup near Ukraine.
Any decisions on new troop movements would be separate from the 8,500 US forces placed on alert last week to potentially bolster a NATO rapid response force, according to the Pentagon, providing context for President Joe Biden’s comments last Friday about potential near-term deployments to Eastern Europe.
According to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, the forces to which Biden referred on Friday might be redeployed from within Europe.
“We’re going through the arduous task of presenting choices for the commander in chief if he decides to do that… in close collaboration with the real allies themselves,” Kirby explained.
Separately, the US military this week placed some 8,500 troops on notice to be ready to deploy to Europe, mostly to fill the ranks of a NATO quick response force if the alliance calls them up for service.
Russia rejects any plans for an invasion. However, after orchestrating the continuing situation by surrounding Ukraine with armies from the north, east, and south, Moscow is now citing the Western response as proof to back its narrative that Russia is the victim of aggression, not the initiator.
Russia, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and supports pro-Russian insurgents battling government forces in eastern Ukraine, is demanding broad security guarantees, including a guarantee that Ukraine would never be admitted to NATO.