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Pentagon announces 8,500 troops are on ‘heightened alert’ amid Russia-Ukraine tensions

The Pentagon announced Monday it has put up to 8,500 U.S. troops on heightened alert to deploy to Eastern Europe amid escalating tensions over Russia’s build-up of troops on its border with Ukraine. Defense Department press secretary John Kirby told reporters that “prepare to deploy orders” had been issued by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to troops stationed at several installations, however, they have not yet been officially activated.

NATO also announced Monday that it was placing additional military forces on standby and sending ships and fighter jets to Eastern Europe to deter and guard against a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Kirby also said: “In the event of NATO’s activation of the NRF or a deteriorating security environment, the United States would be in a position to rapidly deploy additional brigade combat teams, logistics, medical, aviation, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, transportation and additional capabilities into Europe.”

President Joe Biden conferred with European leaders in a secure video call to formulate a plan to handle new developments in the standoff.  Biden spoke with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Polish President Andrzej Duda, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Council President Charles Michel.

Editorial credit: STUDIO MELANGE / Shutterstock.com

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