Washington, Feb 2 (EFE).- The Pentagon confirmed Wednesday that the United States will deploy an additional 3,000 troops to its NATO allies in Eastern Europe amid tensions with Russia over Ukraine.
In a press conference, State Department spokesman John Kirby said 1,000 soldiers will be deployed to Romania and 2,000 others to Poland and Germany.
“The current situation demands that we reinforce the deterrent and defensive posture” on the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Kirby said.
In the coming days, the US will be moving around 1,000 troops currently based in Germany further east to Romanian territory.
“This is a Stryker squadron, a mounted cavalry unit that’s designed to deploy in short order and to move quickly once in place,” the spokesman said, adding that those troops will serve as reinforcements for the roughly 900 US troops currently in Romania.
He said that move has come at the express invitation of the Romanian government.
Separately, some 2,000 additional troops currently on US soil will be deployed in the coming days to Europe.
Kirby said the 82nd Airborne Division is deploying “components of an infantry brigade combat team and key enablers to Poland” and the “18th Airborne Corps is moving a Joint Task Force capable headquarters to Germany.”
In response to a reporter’s question, the spokesman said the majority of the troops will be deployed to Poland.
Kirby stressed that the moves are not permanent but are being taken in response to the current security environment. He also emphasized that these forces, both of which are based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, will not fight in Ukraine.
“Collectively, this force is trained and equipped for a variety of missions to deter aggression and to reassure and to defend our allies,” Kirby said, noting that the US military has worked closely with its Polish and German allies to set the stage for these movements.
The Pentagon recalled that apart from those forces 8,500 military personnel on American soil are on “heightened alert posture.” Although they are not currently being deployed, they “remain ready to move if called for the NATO response force or as needed for other contingencies.”
The spokesman said the troops being deployed to Romania will be under US command but did not indicate whether those sent to Poland and Germany would be under American or NATO command.
Tensions have escalated in that region over the past month due to the Russian government’s move to amass some 100,000 Russian troops – along with tanks and advanced weaponry – on its border with Ukraine.
Moscow, which wants a NATO commitment to pull troops from former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe and assurances that Ukraine will never be admitted to the alliance (demands rejected by the US and its allies), has repeatedly said it has no plans to invade Ukraine.
The US has threatened to impose severe economic sanctions on Russia if it goes ahead with an invasion. EFE