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Pentagon Warns of Russia’s Troop Deployments Near Ukraine

Mr. Austin did not rule out the possibility that U.S. troops might be sent to Ukraine to evacuate Americans if Russia invades and there is combat in the streets of Kyiv. “Whatever task the United States military is called upon to accomplish, we will be prepared to do it,” he said when asked if U.S. troops would enter Ukraine to evacuate Americans.

But that is exactly the type of situation that officials fear could lead to a potential miscalculation and escalation.

“When there’s war, everything changes,” Michael A. McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, said in an interview. “Accidents can happen and planes can get shot down. Americans in Ukraine could get killed. All those kinds of scenarios could happen, and then we’re in a different world.”

Mr. Austin has put 8,500 U.S. troops on high alert for possible deployment to Eastern Europe, where most of them would join a NATO rapid response team of 30,000 to 40,000 troops. And while President Biden has made clear that he has no intention of deploying U.S. troops to Ukraine to help fend off an invasion, he indicated this week that he might separately send additional troops to Eastern European allies that are worried about Russian advances.

Mr. Biden said on Friday that he intended to move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe “in the near term,” adding that “not a lot” would be deployed.

The troops on high alert include elements from the 82nd Airborne out of Fort Bragg, N.C.; the 101st Airborne out of Fort Campbell, Ky.; and the Fourth Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, Colo., as well as from bases in Arizona, Texas, Washington State, Louisiana, Georgia and Ohio.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, so the United States has no treaty obligation to defend it. But countries in the alliance’s so-called eastern flank — former Soviet satellites and the Baltic nations — are concerned that they could be next on Mr. Putin’s list. The purpose of the American troops, if deployed, would be to reassure those NATO allies that while the United States might decline to enter a war with Russia over Ukraine, it will not hesitate to do so if a NATO member is attacked.

Circassia News

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