The U.S. is putting 8,5-hundred troops on "heightened alert" ahead of a potential deployment to Europe IF NEEDED. amid rising fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Pentagon on Monday said the measure is at the direction of President Joe Biden.
But press secretary John Kirby said no final decisions had been made on deployments, and that no troops are intended for deployment to Ukraine itself.
"(cut) No mission has been assigned to these troops. No deployment orders have been sent to them. What the secretary has ordered them to do is to be ready to go(cut)"
The deployment to Europe, he says, would happen when NATO activates its rapid-response force “or if other situations develop” referring to an invasion.
The NATO Response Force is a multinational force totaling about 40-thousand troops.
This is in line with what was discussed during a video call between Biden and European allies to reinforce security on NATO’s eastern flank.
"We have been consulting with allies in deployments and refining plans for all scenarios. (cut) In fact, we've never ruled out the option of providing additional assistance in advance of an invasion."
NATO has already begun bolstering its deterrence with member states like Denmark, France, and Spain deploying troops and ships to join their forces in Eastern Europe.
The Kremlin, which has been denying any plan to invade, denounced NATO's latest movements, blaming U.S. and NATO for escalating tensions by distributing misinformation.
Russia has massed an estimated 100-thousand troops near Ukraine’s border, demanding NATO promise to ban Ukraine from joining its alliance, something the West has not agreed to, while warning of serious consequences if there is an invasion.
It remains to be seen whether a breakthrough can be reached at the upcoming four-way meeting between officials from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany in Paris on Wednesday.
Lee Kyung-eun, Arirang News.