US President examines the possibility of sending the US military to the countries of Eastern Europe
WASHINGTON: U.S. President Joe Biden has held a virtual meeting with key European leaders on the ongoing threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, while he is considering sending several thousand American troops to the Baltic states and Eastern Europe.
“I had a very, very, very good meeting: complete unanimity with all European leaders,” Biden told reporters after a video conference with the leaders of allies from Europe, the EU and NATO.
The office of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson released a statement supporting Biden's resume.
“The leaders agreed on the importance of international unity in the face of Russia’s growing hostility,” the statement said.
Biden has not yet decided whether to deploy American military equipment and personnel closer to Russia.
However, White House press Secretary Jen Psaki said before Biden’s meeting with European officials that the United States “has always said that they will support allies on the eastern flank.”
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has put 8,500 US troops on high alert to be sent to Eastern Europe, where most of them may be involved as part of the NATO response force in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“It is absolutely clear that the Russian side has no intention to de–escalate now,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters. “However, we are talking about reassuring our NATO allies.”
After the meeting, the White House released a statement saying: “The leaders also discussed joint efforts to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine, including preparations for large-scale consequences and serious economic costs for Russia for such actions, as well as to strengthen security on the NATO’s eastern flank.”
Biden ruled out sending troops to Ukraine if Russia invades the former Soviet republic, but promised to promptly impose tough economic sanctions against Moscow.
According to Kirby, the United States is “taking steps to increase readiness in the situation with Ukraine,” including through the NATO response force, if Western armed forces are involved.