(NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden is sending more than 3,000 American troops to Poland, Germany and Romania this week to bolster the defense of European allies in Russia’s military standoff with Ukraine.
In announcing the moves Wednesday, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the U.S. forces will not enter Ukraine and will move to their new positions in the coming days under U.S. command.
“These are not permanent moves,” he said, stressing that the purpose is to reassure allies at a time of heightened tension over Russia’s unusual buildup of military forces along Ukraine’s border.
2,000 troops from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, will be sent to Poland and Germany and part of an infantry Stryker squadron of roughly 1,000 troops based in Germany will be sent to Romania.
The military moves come amid stalled talks with Russia over its military buildup at Ukraine’s borders. And they underscore growing fears across Europe that Russian President Vladimir Putin is poised to invade Ukraine — and smaller NATO countries on the eastern flank worry they could be next.
Kirby said the Russian buildup has continued, even in the last 24 hours.
“It’s important that we send a strong signal to Mr. Putin and to the world,” Kirby said of the U.S commitment to NATO.
The Biden administration had previously announced 8,500 troops would be on alert but did not commit to deploying them.
“I’ll be moving troops to Eastern Europe in the NATO countries in the near term,” Biden said last week. “Not a lot.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. has taken into account the risk that any troop movements could inflame the situation, but stressed the need for America to reassure its allies. Moving large units with heavy equipment and weapons often requires more time due to travel and logistical challenges.
Biden has previously warned that there is a “distinct possibility” that Russia could take military action against the former Soviet state in February, but the White House on Wednesday says it’s no longer describing a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine as “imminent,” suggesting the word sent an unintended message.
“I used that once. I think others have used that once. And then we stopped using it because I think it sent a message that we weren’t intending to send, which was that we knew President Putin had made a decision,” press secretary Jen Psaki said.
Russia has repeatedly denied having any such plans.