Nearly 5,000 American troops have arrived in Poland as US President Joe Biden said he believes Russia is on the verge of invading Ukraine.
The troops from the 82nd Airborne Division arrived in Poland on Thursday with Pentagon officials saying they provide reassurance to a pivotal NATO ally and expertise in helping with the possible evacuation of Americans and others if Russia invades Ukraine.
In addition, another 1,000 American troops — a Stryker squadron from the Army’s Second Cavalry Regiment — are moving from Germany to Romania, according to a US military official.
The Air Force has also sent over a dozen additional fighter jets to Eastern Europe in recent days.
Biden claimed Thursday his administration had “reason to believe” that Russia was “engaged in a false-flag operation to have an excuse to go in”.
“Every indication we have is they’re prepared to go into Ukraine, attack Ukraine … My sense is it will happen in the next several days,” he told reporters shortly after the expulsion of his country’s deputy ambassador to Moscow.
Washington and its NATO allies have been accusing Russia of plans to invade Ukraine by amassing about 150,000 troops and armaments near the border with Ukraine. Moscow has vehemently rejected the allegations, saying the military build-up is defensive in nature, slamming NATO over its increased military activity near Russian borders.
In a major step toward de-escalation, Moscow also announced last week that some of the Russian troops deployed in areas bordering Ukraine would return to their bases. It also released footage showing some tanks and armored vehicles being loaded onto railway flatcars.
The West claims that the presence of Russian military forces is not diminishing, but on the contrary, growing.
On Thursday, Russia lambasted the “unfounded accusations” by the US and NATO that it was not withdrawing troops, saying it will take time to draw to a close the current military exercises.
Also on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a United Nations security council meeting on Ukraine that Russia is preparing to launch an attack.
“Our information indicates clearly that [Russian] forces, including ground troops, aircraft, ships, are preparing to launch an attack against Ukraine in the coming days.”
“Russia plans to manufacture a pretext for its attack,” Blinken added.
However, speaking to council members, the Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergey Vershinin, repeated Moscow’s denials of any intention to invade Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that the US is deliberately designing a scenario to lure Russia into a war over Ukraine.
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