Up to 8,500 US forces have been placed on “heightened alert” for potential deployment to Eastern Europe amid growing tensions between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine, the Pentagon announced Monday.
Defense Department press secretary John Kirby stressed during his regular briefing that no final decision had been made about whether to deploy troops to the region as part of a 40,000-strong NATO response force (NRF) in the event Russia invades its western neighbor.
“We’ll continue to provide updates in the coming days about these decisions,” Kirby said. “But specifically this will ensure that the United States and our commitment to the NRF has — is consistent with their readiness for rapid deployment again, if activated.”
Kirby further clarified that the troops would likely be considered “ground forces,” as well as that the NRF can only be activated by NATO rather than President Biden.
“It is our contribution to the response force,” he said, “and we want to make sure that they’re ready to go.”
This is a developing story.