President Joe Biden said Friday the United States will send troops to NATO countries in Eastern Europe in the near term, after Russias deployment of over 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border raised fears an invasion could be imminent.
President Joe Biden speaks about Russia and Ukraine in the Cabinet Room of the White House on January … [+] 20, 2022.
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images Key Facts
The US put 8,500 troops on heightened alert for possible deployment to Eastern Europe earlier this week, but Biden told reporters Friday evening at Joint Base Andrews that he will not send a lot of troops to the region in the near term.
President Joe Biden has ruled out the possibility of deploying US troops directly to Ukraine, which isnt a NATO member, though the United States this week sent Ukraine hundreds of missiles and other military supplies.
The Pentagon announced earlier Friday that Russia had deployed enough troops and military hardware to invade the whole of Ukraine, though US military officials said its still unclear whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will decide to invade, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Western leaders not to create panic with unduly dire predictions.
Russia has denied any interest in invading Ukraine.
In 2014, Russia invaded and annexed Ukraines Crimean Peninsula, an area roughly the size of Vermont whose 2.4 million inhabitants are mostly ethnic Russians. Russian troops and military hardware have also been deployed to support separatists in the Donbas, an area of eastern Ukraine bordering Russia, though the Kremlin denies participating in the conflict. Tensions started flaring again last December, after Russia moved about 100,000 troops to its border with Ukraine, prompting the White House to warn last week Russia could launch an attack at any point. Two weeks ago, several Ukrainian government departments were subjected to a large-scale cyberattack that officials said resembled previous Russian tactics. During a January visit to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia of using everything from election interference to disinformation to cyberattacks to divide Ukraine, and warned that Russia would be harshly sanctioned if it launched an invasion.
What To Watch For
The White House announced this week there is a distinct possibility that Russia will take military action against Ukraine in February. US and European officials have argued invasion is not inevitable and pressed for a diplomatic solution to the tensions, seeking an open meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the crisis.
I think youd have to go back quite a while to the Cold War days to see something of this magnitude, said Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
What We Dont Know
Debate rages over Russias true motivation for allegedly wishing to invade Ukraine. Russia has unsuccessfully demanded that NATO rule out membership for Ukraine and other post-Soviet states and roll back the presence of troops in Eastern Europe. Because Russia has been unable to stop NATO from expanding into Eastern Europe through diplomacy since the fall of the Soviet Union, it has chosen military force as a plan B, argues Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. Many critics also theorize that elected strongmen like Putin rely on an endless string of manufactured crises to justify their own expansive powers.
Former President Donald Trump, who was impeached in 2019 after withholding $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in an alleged attempt to strongarm his government into investigating Biden, said in a Monday statement that he would not have allowed the crisis to develop. Whats happening with Russia and Ukraine would never have happened under the Trump Administration, he said. Not even a possibility!
Biden says he’ll send troops to Eastern Europe in ‘near term’ (The Hill)
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