President Joe Biden on Monday directed the Pentagon to put 8,500 troops on heightened alert for possible deployment to Europe as Russia continues to threaten Ukraine.
John Kirby, the Pentagon's press secretary, says the troops will be called into action only if the NATO alliance decides to activate a rapid-response force "or if other situations develop" along the Russian-Ukraine border. "What this is about is reassurance to our NATO allies," Kirby says, adding that no troops will be sent to Ukraine.
The move comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused to scale down his military pressure on the neighboring country, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki. "We’ve always said we would reinforce our allies on the eastern flank, and those conversations and discussions have certainly been part of what our national security officials have been discussing with their counterparts now for several weeks," Psaki says.