Washington – US President Joe Biden (79) announced on Friday that he would move more US soldiers to the Eastern European NATO countries because of the Ukraine crisis.
“I will be moving soldiers to Eastern Europe and the NATO countries at short notice,” said Biden, according to “CNN” and “AFP”. But it is only about a “small number of soldiers”. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chief of Staff Mark Milley called for de-escalation to prevent a “horrific” war.
Against the background of tensions with Russia, NATO announced earlier this week that it would increase its military presence in Eastern Europe. Several member states of the western military alliance want to send additional combat aircraft and ships to the Baltic Sea and Eastern European countries such as Lithuania, Romania and Bulgaria.
Biden did not specify how many soldiers he would transfer to Eastern Europe. It’s about “not too many” soldiers, he told journalists. The United States had already put 8,500 soldiers on alert to strengthen the NATO presence.
On Thursday afternoon (local time), US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had stated that there had not yet been any orders to relocate the soldiers. They are ready in the USA, but have not yet been requested by NATO.
According to Western sources, Russia has massed more than 100,000 soldiers on the Ukrainian border. The West is concerned that Russia is preparing to invade the neighboring country after annexing Crimea in 2014.
The Kremlin denies any plans to attack, but at the same time states that it feels threatened by Ukraine and NATO. Russian President Vladimir Putin is therefore demanding written commitments from NATO, for example to forego further eastward expansion. The US and its western allies reject this.
The Elysée Palace said Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron had reiterated the “need for de-escalation” in a meeting. An adviser to the French presidents said that Putin had “not expressed any offensive plans” and that he was ready to continue the dialogue in the so-called Normandy format with France, Germany and Ukraine. Putin “said very clearly that he does not want a confrontation”.