NATO’s top military commander in Europe says US troops may soon be deployed to alliance member states in Eastern Europe as tensions near the border between Ukraine and Russia continue to escalate.
US Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove has told the Associated Press that plans for boosting NATO’s military presence in Eastern Europe could involve the mobilizing of US troops, saying that he would not “write off involvement by any nation, to include the United States.”
“Essentially what we are looking at is a package of land, air and maritime measures that would build assurance for our easternmost allies,” the four-star US general said in an interview with the AP. “I’m tasked to deliver this by next week. I fully intend to deliver it early.”
Asked if US troops could be sent to the member states which are closest to Russia, Breedlove said, “I would not write off contributions from any nation.”
Breedlove says about 40,000 Russian forces are along Russia’s border with eastern Ukraine.
“What we see there is a force of about 40,000,” the general said. “I would characterize it as a combined arms army. In other words, this is an army that has all of the provisioning and enablers that it needs to accomplish military objectives if given them.”
This comes as Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that Ukraine and the US have “no reason for concern” as “Russia has repeatedly stated that it does not conduct unusual or unplanned activities which are militarily significant on its territory near the border with Ukraine.”
Tensions between Washington and Moscow intensified after people in Crimea voted last month to sever ties with Ukraine and join Russia.
US President Barack Obama has signed executive orders imposing sanctions on senior Russian officials and a Russian bank, Bank Rossiya.
Following pro-Russian demonstrations in the Ukrainian cities of Donetsk, Lugansk, and Kharkov over the weekend in which protesters seized government buildings, US Secretary of State John Kerry threatened Russia with more sanctions accusing Moscow of “an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize” Ukraine.
Kerry said before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday that Washington and its allies are ready to impose tough new sanctions “on those orchestrating this action and on key sectors of the Russian economy — in energy, banking, mining — they’re all on the table.”