Up to 8,500 US troops have been put on alert amid growing tensions along the border between Russia and Ukraine.
Though the troops are US-based and there are no plans to deploy them just yet, they are said to be on standby in case the NATO quick response force – around 40,000 international troops from land, air, sea and special operations divisions – was needed.
The news comes as Russian troops are said to be gathering on the Ukrainian border.
Today, I spoke with European leaders in response to Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s borders. We discussed our joint efforts to deter further Russian aggression, such as preparations to impose severe economic costs on Russia and reinforce security on the eastern flank. pic.twitter.com/2XvTTvdLJl— President Biden (@POTUS) January 24, 2022
US Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby said the move was 'really about getting folks ready to go', but have no plans to deploy at this time.
'There’s not a mission per se, this is about [Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin] wanting to get ahead of the potential activation and making sure these units have time to prepare,' Kirby said, MailOnline reports.
He added that troops would only be deployed if NATO activated their response force, or in the event of a 'deteriorating security environment'. Putting troops on alert was 'sending a strong message that we're committed to NATO and we're committed to ensuring that our allies have the capabilities they need in case they need to defend themselves,' Kirby said.
'It’s very clear the Russians have no intention right now of de-escalating,' he added.
.@PentagonPresSec: @SecDef has placed a range of units in the United States on heightened preparedness to deploy, which increases our readiness to provide forces if @NATO should activate the NATO Response Force. #WeAreNATO pic.twitter.com/DxCpFo2vqg— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) January 24, 2022
Speaking yesterday, January 25, US president Joe Biden said he and European leaders had 'total unanimity' regarding the current situation.
Leaders from the UK as well as France, Germany, Italy and Poland were involved with the call, and discussed 'their joint efforts to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine, including preparations to impose massive consequences and severe economic costs on Russia for such actions as well as to reinforce security on NATO's eastern flank,' the White House said.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said there would be 'severe costs' if there is 'further aggression by Russia against Ukraine'.
Great meeting with @POTUS on European security with #NATO leaders @EmmanuelMacron, @OlafScholz, Mario Draghi, @AndrzejDuda, @BorisJohnson & our #EU partners @eucopresident & @vonderleyen. We agree that any further aggression by #Russia against #Ukraine will have severe costs. pic.twitter.com/r7wx0Xln4X— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) January 24, 2022
While a Downing Street spokesperson said that if a 'further Russian incursion into Ukraine' did happen, 'allies must enact swift retributive responses including an unprecedented package of sanctions'.
'The leaders agreed on the importance of international unity in the face of growing Russian hostility. The Prime Minister underlined the real human cost of any Russian aggression and the need to take all steps within our power to prevent that outcome.
'The leaders stressed that diplomatic discussions with Russia remain the first priority, and welcomed talks that have already taken place between Russia and Nato allies. They also agreed that the international community should not tolerate any action which undermines Ukrainian sovereignty,' they added. The prime minister is also said to have 'emphasised the need to support Ukraine's defences against the full spectrum of malign Russian activity'.
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