Joe Biden announced on Thursday that an additional 7,000 U.S. troops will be deployed to Germany, bringing the total of U.S. troops sent to Europe this month to 12,000. On February 2, 1,700 troops were ordered to Poland, and 300 to Germany. Another 3,000 troops were added to Poland on Feb. 11, as the crisis loomed.
The U.S. forces are being deployed to bolster NATO’s defenses as Russia continues its military incursion into Ukraine.
Speaking from the East Room of the White House, Biden stressed that U.S. soldiers will not be going to Ukraine and will not be fighting Russian troops.
The troop won’t “be engaged in the conflict,” he said.
Accompanying the 7,000 troops will be an armored brigade combat team with “associated capabilities and enablers,” according to a senior Defense Department official.
The troops will leave “in the coming days,” the Defense Dept. said.
Biden also announced that the U.S. and our allies will impose “devastating” financial sanctions and export controls to impact the Russian economy and banking system. The sanctions will not affect the SWIFT financial system, however, as our European allies are not onboard with that.
When asked why the U.S. isn’t implementing harsher sanctions on Russia to discourage more aggression against Ukraine, Biden said, “Let’s have another conversation in another month or so to see if they are working.”
A senior DoD official told Politico on Thursday that Moscow’s ultimate goal in invading Ukraine is to decapitate the government and install a Russian-backed government in Kyiv.
In a multi-pronged assault that began just before dawn, Russian forces launched over 100 ballistic missiles at military targets, including airfields and ammunition depots, across the country.
Ground forces and aircraft have also breached Ukraine’s borders from the east near the city of Kharkiv, the south around Odessa, and the north from Belarus, an assault that included airstrikes and helicopter assaults.
A Pentagon official told reporters that the Russian operation is “still in its early stages, and not all Russian troops arrayed around Ukraine’s borders have moved in.”
“We haven’t seen a conventional move like this, nation-state to nation-state, since World War II, certainly nothing on this size and scope and scale,” they said.
The official would not rule out the redeployment of more U.S. troops inside Europe, or more coming from the U.S. to bolster NATO allies Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, which border Russia and Belarus.
It’s not clear if, or how, Western powers might be able to continue to supply military or humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, given the fighting around the Kyiv airport, and the heavy damage taken at other regional airstrips. The Ukrainian port at Odessa has also come under attack, potentially holding the Ukrainian navy in place, and the Russian overland assault from Belarus could effectively seal off the western part of the country, making land routes dangerous.
The official added that the U.S. is looking “to continue to find ways to provide them both lethal and non lethal assistance,” and noted that “some of the methods [that you do] are going to have to change now.”