President Joe Biden is weighing sending several thousand troops as well as aircrafts and warships to NATO allies in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States amid growing concerns of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, The New York Times reports.
“Even as we’re engaged in diplomacy, we are very much focused on building up defense, building up deterrence,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “NATO itself will continue to be reinforced in a significant way if Russia commits renewed acts of aggression. All of that is on the table.”
While attending a meeting on Saturday at Camp David, Pentagon officials presented Biden with several strategies that would shift away from previous do-not-provoke diplomacy strategies. Among the options include sending 1,000 to 5,000 troops to Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia with the potential to increase the number tenfold if the situation deteriorates.
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Biden is expected to make a decision this week on the matter. He is taking under consideration Russia’s buildup of roughly 100,000 troops and weaponry on the Ukraine border, as well as the presence of Russian forces in Belarus.
Former top Pentagon official for Russia policy, Jim Townsend, says the administration has not gone far enough. “It’s too little too late to deter Putin,” Townsend told the Times. “If the Russians do invade Ukraine in a few weeks, those 5,000 should be just a down payment for a much larger U.S. and allied force presence. Western Europe should once again be an armed camp.”
Last week, Biden said the U.S. was going to increase troop presence in Poland, Romania, “et cetera, if in fact [Putin] moves. They are part of NATO.”