U.S. troops have begun to arrive in Europe as part of President Joe Biden’s move to reinforce NATO amid concern over a Russia military buildup near Ukraine.
Biden earlier this week approved the deployment of 2,000 U.S.-based troops to Germany and Poland. He also agreed to send 1,000 U.S. soldiers currently based in Germany to Romania.
The first group of U.S. troops began arriving in Poland on February 5, Polish media reported.
“As announced, the first elements of the brigade battle group from the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army have arrived in Poland,” a Polish military spokesman said on February 5.
About 1,700 service members, mainly paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division, will deploy from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Poland “over the next days,” U.S. Army sources have said.
The first additional U.S. troops arrived in Germany on February 4.
Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine in what the United States has said could be a prelude to an invasion, something the Kremlin denies.
The U.S. decision to send additional troops to Europe is designed to show support to NATO allies and deter Russia from military aggression against its smaller neighbor, analysts have said.
NATO members Poland and Romania both border Ukraine.
The United States and its European allies are seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis instigated by Russia, which is demanding sweeping security guarantees from NATO, including a promise Ukraine will never join the military alliance.
The West has rejected that demand, saying it violates core principles, including the right of sovereign nations to choose their own foreign policy.
The United States and Europe have told the Kremlin they will boost NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe and impose massive sanctions on Russia in the event of an invasion of Ukraine.
With little progress so far in talks, the Biden administration announced last week it was putting 8,500 troops on heightened alert for possible departure to Europe.
They are separate from the 2,000 troops being sent to Europe now.
The United States has had tens of thousands of troops stationed in Europe since the end of World War II and can draw on them for any additional deployments to Eastern European allies.