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U.S. puts 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to Eastern Europe

Rising tension between Russia and Ukraine has led to the alert for deployment

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Pentagon spokesman John Kirby in Washington.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.

Manuel Balce Ceneta, Associated Press

The Pentagon has put 8,500 troops on alert for possible deployment to Eastern Europe, a move that would increase NATO ally forces amid Ukraine tensions with Russia, The Associated Press reports.

The news: U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued the ready-to-deploy order, per CNN.

  • Austin said the “bulk of” the troops will look to improve numbers for NATO’s quick response force.
  • The force “consists of a highly capable joint multinational force able to react in a very short time to the full range of security challenges from crisis management to collective defense,” according to NATO.

However: Austin said he wanted to be “postured to be ready for any other contingencies as well.”

Quote: “This is really about reassuring the eastern flank of NATO, and it’s also about ... proving how seriously the United States takes our commitment to NATO and to the Article Five commitment inside NATO,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Monday, per Axios.

Flashback: Over the weekend, multiple reports said the Biden administration was considering sending troops to Baltic countries as tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue.

  • “The options include sending 1,000 to 5,000 troops to Eastern European countries, with the potential to increase that number tenfold if things deteriorate,” per The New York Times.
  • “Poland, Romania and other countries neighboring Ukraine” were suggested as countries to receive troops, according to NBC News.

What to know: Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops on the Ukraine border, which has fueled tensions between the two countries. There’s an ongoing belief among international officials that Russia could invade Ukraine.

  • The U.K. government Saturday accused Russia of trying to replace Ukraine’s current government with a pro-Moscow administration, The Associated Press reports.