The United States will be sending 3,000 additional troops to Poland in the coming days to try and help reassure NATO allies, four U.S. officials told Reuters on Friday, as Russia held military exercises in Belarus and the Black Sea following the buildup of its forces near Ukraine.
Russia is massing more troops near Ukraine and an invasion could come at any time, perhaps before the end of this month’s Winter Olympics, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday.
Commercial satellite images published by a private U.S. company showed new Russian military deployments at several locations near Ukraine.
The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the U.S. troop deployment will come from the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and not from within U.S. forces in Europe.
They are expected to be in Poland by next week, they said.
One of the officials described it as a significant deployment.
Another official said the deployment order was signed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the direction of President Joe Biden.
They are in addition to the 8,500 troops already on alert to be ready to deploy to Europe if needed and the nearly 3,000 American troops the administration said earlier this month it would deploy to Poland and Romania.
Biden met his national security advisers in the White House Situation Room Thursday night to discuss Russia’s ongoing military buildup around Ukraine.
Russia has already massed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine, and this week it launched joint military exercises in neighboring Belarus and naval drills in the Black Sea.
Moscow denies plans to invade Ukraine, but says it could take unspecified “military-technical” action unless a series of demands are met, including promises from NATO never to admit Ukraine and to withdraw forces from Eastern Europe.
The United States and Britain have both warned an invasion could come within days.
The Biden administration has made clear that it will not send U.S. troops into Ukraine to help American citizens looking to flee the country should there be a Russian invasion, urging them to leave now.
While the United States does not have any ships in the Black Sea currently, the U.S. Navy has sent four additional destroyers to Europe in recent weeks.