President Joe Biden is considering deploying thousands of American troops to NATO allies amid concerns that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine, The New York Times reports.
Top Pentagon officials presented Biden with several options to respond to Russia’s aggression in a meeting on Saturday at Camp David. The options included a deployment of 1,000 to 5,000 troops to Eastern European countries with the potential to “increase that number tenfold if things deteriorate,” according to the report.
Biden is expected to make a decision as early as this week.
Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine and has also based troops along Ukraine’s border with Belarus.
“Even as we’re engaged in diplomacy, we are very much focused on building up defense, building up deterrence,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS News on Sunday. “NATO itself will continue to be reinforced in a significant way if Russia commits renewed acts of aggression. All of that is on the table.”
No troops to Ukraine:
The Biden administration has ruled out sending troops to Ukraine but there have been multiple reports that the administration could back a Ukrainian insurgency if Russia invades and Ukraine’s military collapses.
Biden said he cautioned Russian President Vladimir Putin about a buildup of troops in Europe during a press conference last week.
“We’re going to actually increase troop presence in Poland, in Romania, et cetera, if in fact he moves,” Biden said. “They are part of NATO.”
But defense experts worry that the NATO deployment may not be enough.
“It’s likely too little too late to deter Putin,” former Pentagon official Jim Townsend told the Times. “If the Russians do invade Ukraine in a few weeks, those 5,000 should be just a down payment for a much larger U.S. and allied force presence. Western Europe should once again be an armed camp.”
State Dept. orders Americans to leave:
The State Department said Sunday that it would reduce staffing levels at its embassy in Kiev and ordered the families of diplomats to leave the country.
"On January 23, 2022, the Department of State authorized the voluntary departure of US direct hire employees and ordered the departure of eligible family members from Embassy Kyiv due to the continued threat of Russian military action," the State Department said in a statement. "US citizens in Ukraine should consider departing now using commercial or other privately available transportation options."