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Biden to send 3,000 U.S. troops to Eastern Europe over Russia-Ukraine crisis

By Clyde Hughes & Calley Hair
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Biden to send 3,000 U.S. troops to Eastern Europe over Russia-Ukraine crisis
President Joe Biden, pictured at the White House, on Wednesday sent about 3,000 troops to Eastern Europe. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 2 (UPI) -- U.S. President Joe Biden will send 3,000 additional American troops to Eastern Europe to support NATO and Ukraine to dissuade Russia from any kind of military intervention in Ukraine, the Department of Defense announced Wednesday.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a news conference that the move demonstrates America's commitment to its NATO allies. The troops will be sent to Romania, Poland and Germany.

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"The current situation demands that we reinforce the deterrent and defensive posture on NATO's eastern flank," Kirby said. "President Biden has been clear that the United States will respond to the growing threat to Europe's security and stability. Our commitment to NATO Article Five and collective defense remains ironclad."

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Kirby added that these troops are in addition to the prepare-to-deploy orders issued to 8,500 service members last month.

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He emphasized in his remarks that the 3,000 troops aren't going to fight in Ukraine, but rather ensure "robust defense" of NATO allies.

Two thousand of the troops will be deployed out of Fort Bragg in North Carolina over the next couple of days. An additional 1,000-member Army Stryker squadron will deploy to Romania from Germany, joining the 900 troops already there.

The deployment follows talks between U.S. and Russian officials and a meeting of the United Nations Security Council this week over the Ukraine crisis. Biden had indicated earlier that he might send additional U.S. troops to the region to support NATO forces there.

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Meanwhile, a top Russian diplomat said earlier Wednesday that intelligence and information about Moscow's military buildup near Ukraine collected by the United States and Britain is not credible and the Kremlin has "no trust" in them.

Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, made the remarks in an interview with Britain's Sky News.

Fears in the West about a Russian invasion of Ukraine have risen over the past few months as Moscow has mobilized tens of thousands of troops near the country's border with eastern Ukraine.

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Russia and President Vladimir Putin have repeatedly expressed concern about Ukraine's designs to join NATO, but have blamed the West, namely the United States, for "provoking" the crisis over the former Soviet republic.

In his remarks, Polyanskiy said that the troop figures near Ukraine cited in U.S. and British intelligence reports, for one, are incorrect.

"I don't know where they take these figures from and we have absolutely no trust in the intelligence data from the U.S. and from the U.K.," he said.

"I think this is the same intelligence that claims that Saddam Hussein possesses the weapons of mass destruction. The hysteria doesn't stop. It's absolutely happening in the heads of Western politicians and not really on the ground."

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield talks about concerns about Russia's intentions for Ukraine at a meeting of the Security Council in New York City on Monday. Photo by Jason Szenes/EPA-EFE

Polyanskiy's retort came after a meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday -- at which Zelensky cautioned that a Russian invasion could produce a "full-scale" war throughout Europe.

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"Russians need to hear us, they need to listen, and they need to understand that no one needs war," Zelensky said, according to state-run Ukrinform. "But we aren't inviting to our land anyone armed.

"It will be, unfortunately, a tragedy if a major escalation against our country kicks off. So I say frankly that this won't be a war between Ukraine and Russia, this will be a war in Europe, a full-scale war. That's because no one will be giving up on any of its territories and people," Zelensky said.

Moscow has denied that it has any plans to invade Ukraine, but experts and analysts have cautioned that a military escalation may be precisely what Russia is preparing for. It's worth remembering, they say, that Russia forcefully annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

"No one can predict what happens next. No one offers 100% guarantees to anyone, let alone us, who back in 2014 could not have predicted that a war would be unleashed here, that our territories would be occupied," Zelensky added, according to Ukrinform.

After meeting with Zelensky in Kiev on Tuesday, Johnson also warned that a Russian invasion would turn into a political and humanitarian disaster.

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"It might even also be for Russia, for the world, a military disaster, as well," Johnson said, according to Ukrinform. "And the potential invasion completely flies in the face of President Putin's claims to be acting in the interest of the Ukrainian people."

At the Kremlin on Tuesday, Putin argued that the United States and NATO have "ignored" Russia's security requests relating to Ukraine's possible membership to the alliance.

Putin said the West didn't provide adequate responses for Russia's three top concerns -- Ukraine joining NATO, deployment of strike weapons near Russia's borders and returning NATO military deployment to 1997 positions.

The requests were made in December.

"Ignoring our concerns, the U.S. and NATO generally refer to the right of the states to freely choose ways to ensure their security," Putin said. "But this is not just about giving somebody the right to freely choose how to ensure their security. ... No one should be allowed to strengthen their security at the expense of the security of other states."

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