MILITARY

Biden sending more troops to Europe amid Ukraine tension

Feb 2, 2022, 8:02 AM | Updated: 8:19 am
In this photo taken from video and released by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Wednes...
In this photo taken from video and released by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, a tank drives during a Russian and Belarusian joint military drills at Brestsky firing range, Belarus. Russian and Belarus troops held joint combat training at firing ranges in Belarus Wednesday as tensions remain high under the looming threat of war with Ukraine. The drills involved motorized rifle, artillery and anti-tank missile units, as well tanks' and armoured personnel carriers' crews. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
(Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

BRUSSELS (AP) — President Joe Biden is sending about 2,000 troops from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Poland and Germany this week and shifting roughly 1,000 Germany-based soldiers to Romania, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

Biden has said he will not put American troops in Ukraine to fight any Russian incursion, although the United States is supplying Ukraine with weapons to defend itself.

The military moves come amid stalled talks with Russia over its military buildup at Ukraine’s borders. And they underscore growing fears across Europe that Russian President Vladimir Putin is poised to invade Ukraine. Smaller NATO countries on the alliance’s eastern flank worry they could be next, although Russia has said it has no intention of initiating conflict and is willing to continue diplomatic efforts.

The administration official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss military moves not yet announced.

Biden had said recently that he intended to provide additional U.S. forces to NATO allies in Eastern Europe as reassurance of an American commitment as treaty allies.

The Pentagon also has put about 8,500 U.S.-based troops on higher alert for possible deployment to Europe as additional reassurance to allies, and officials have indicated the possibility that additional units could be placed on higher alert soon. The U.S. already has between 75,000 and 80,000 troops in Europe as permanently stationed forces and as part of regular rotations in place such as Poland.

Washington and Moscow have been at loggerheads over Ukraine, with little sign of a diplomatic path forward. A Spanish newspaper on Wednesday reported that the United States could be willing to enter into an agreement with Russia to ease tensions over missile deployments in Europe if Moscow steps back from the brink in Ukraine.

The daily El Pais published two documents purported to be written replies from the United States and NATO last week to Russia’s proposals for a new security arrangement in Europe. The U.S. State department declined to comment on them.

In reference to the second document, NATO said that it never comments on “alleged leaks.” But the text closely reflects statements made to the media last week by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg as he laid out the 30-nation military organization’s position on Russia’s demands.

The U.S. document, marked as a confidential “non-paper,” said that the United States would be willing to discuss in consultation with its NATO partners “a transparency mechanism to confirm the absences of Tomahawk cruise missiles at Aegis Ashore sites in Romania and Poland.”

That would happen on condition that Russia “offers reciprocal transparency measures on two ground-launched missiles bases of our choosing in Russia.”

Aegis Ashore is a system for defending against short- or intermediate-range missiles. Russia argues the site in Romania could be easily adapted to fire cruise missiles instead of interceptors, which ram their target and do not carry warheads, a claim that Washington has denied.

Russian President Vladimir Putin again mentioned the possibility Tuesday, saying that “there are MK-41 launchers there that could be configured for firing Tomahawks.” He said they “are offensive systems that could reach thousands of kilometers into our territory. Isn’t that a threat to us?”

The U.S. document said Washington would have to consult with NATO allies on the potential offer, particularly with Romania and Poland.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on the leaked documents, saying only that “we didn’t release anything.” In comments to the state RIA Novosti news agency, Russia’s Foreign Ministry also refused to confirm or deny that the documents published by El Pais were authentic.

Fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine have mounted in recent months, after Putin deployed more than 100,000 troops to areas near Ukraine’s borders, including in neighboring Belarus, backed by tanks, artillery, helicopters and warplanes. Russian officials have insisted that Moscow has no intention of invading.

The U.S. underlined after its written proposals in the leaked document that “progress can only be achieved on these issues in an environment of de-escalation with respect to Russia’s threatening actions towards Ukraine.”

In his first public remarks on the standoff in more than a month, Putin on Tuesday accused the U.S. and its allies of ignoring Russia’s central security demands but he said that Moscow is willing to talk more to ease tensions over Ukraine.

His remarks suggested that a potential Russian invasion may not be imminent and that at least one more round of diplomacy is likely.

After talks in Kyiv Wednesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte underlined that “it is essential for dialogue to continue.” If not, Rutte, said, “it is clear that further aggression against Ukraine will have serious consequences.”

Russia’s military buildup has already taken a toll on Ukraine’s economy, but Zelenskyy said his government has taken steps to calm the markets and the local currency, the hryvnia. He said Ukraine has also boosted its combat and armed forces capabilities, but underlined that “we think only about peace and de-occupation of (our) territories, solely through diplomatic means.”

Notable in its absence from the leaked documents is any mention of Ukraine’s hopes of joining NATO. Putin has demanded that NATO stop taking in any new members and withdraw its troops and equipment from countries that joined the alliance since 1997, almost half its ranks.

In the leaked document linked to NATO, the 30 allies said they “reaffirm our commitment to NATO’s Open Door policy,” without specifically mentioning Ukraine. Under Article 10 of NATO’s founding treaty, other European countries may be invited in if they further the goals of European security.

At a NATO summit in 2008, NATO leaders said that they welcomed “Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO,” adding: “We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.”

Russia invaded Georgia later that year, and in 2014 annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. Around 14,000 people have been killed in the conflict that still simmers in eastern Ukraine. Their membership plans have been on hold for years, although NATO continues to support them and promote reforms.
___
Litvinova reported from Moscow. Associated Press writers Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow, Yuras Karmanau in Kyiv, Matthew Lee, Lolita C. Baldor and Robert Burns in Washington, Aritz Parra in Madrid and Mike Corder in The Hague contributed to this report.

Today’s Top Stories

Military

Photo credit: Utah State Office of the Governor....
Mark Jones

Governor honors Servicemember of the Year award recipients

Recipients of the 2022 Servicemember of the Year were honored Thursday by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs.
22 days ago
Midshipman 1st Class Taylor Connors. Connors, 24, of Pleasant View passed away on Tuesday, June 7, ...
Mark Jones

U.S. Naval Academy identifies Taylor Connors as deceased midshipman

A Utah enrollee at the U.S. Naval Academy has died. Taylor Connors of Pleasant View died Tuesday morning in Philadelphia with family at his side, according to the U.S. Naval Academy.
23 days ago
Col Gail Halvorsen...
Mark Jones

Provo Veterans Center to be renamed after Col. Gail S. Halvorsen

A bill co-sponsored by Utah's two senators was signed into law Tuesday by President Biden that will rename the Provo Veterans Center after Col. Gail Halvorsen.
24 days ago
Carry the Load makes stops in the lead up to Memorial Day....
Amie Schaeffer

Non-profit seeks to bring meaning to Memorial Day

The non-profit, Carry The Load raises awareness of the sacrifices made by America's military, veterans and first responders.
1 month ago
An F-35A Lighting II taxis at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, May 20, 2020.  Military personnel from the...
Mark Jones

Military personnel from Hill Air Force Base returned home Monday night

Military personnel returned to Hill Air Force Base Monday evening after deploying the F-35A Lightning II to Germany.
2 months ago
Camp Williams live...
Mark Jones

Camp Williams to conduct live-fire training for three days this week

Beginning on Tuesday, Camp Williams will hold live-fire training for three days this week, between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Biden sending more troops to Europe amid Ukraine tension