US soldiers on alert as a signal to Putin

In Pending a decision by President Joe Biden on the military reinforcement of NATO’s eastern flank, the US Department of Defense has placed 8,500 soldiers on “increased operational readiness”. Most of the soldiers could be deployed as part of the military alliance’s rapid reaction force, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. The remainder could be used in a separate American crisis response. So far, however, no decision has been made about sending the soldiers. Nevertheless, the current step sends “a very clear signal” to Russian President Vladimir Putin “that we take our responsibility towards NATO seriously”.

Majid Sattar

Political correspondent for North America based in Washington.

Kirby declined to comment on a possible location for the soldiers; this would be a NATO decision. “But we have made it clear to our eastern flank allies that we stand ready to bolster their capabilities should they need it,” he said. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had presented options to Biden over the weekend to increase the American military presence in the Baltics and Eastern Europe.

“Russia has no intention of de-escalating”

In addition to the deployment of warships and military aircraft, this also included the deployment of 1,000 to 5,000 soldiers – with the possibility of increasing this number tenfold if the situation worsened. A decision is expected this week. Other NATO members have already announced an increase in their military presence in the eastern alliance area in view of the danger of a renewed Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin accused NATO and Washington of escalating the situation. Kirby dismissed this: “It is very clear that the Russians have no intention of de-escalating at this time,” he said.

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The Pentagon’s announcement underscores Washington’s strategic shift in dealing with the Russian escalation on the Ukrainian border, where 127,000 Russian troops have now been massed at various sections, according to Kiev. So far, the White House had made it clear that it would only increase the military presence on the eastern flank in the event of another attack by Moscow.

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