WASHINGTON: The US said on Wednesday that it was sending hundreds of troops to eastern Europe to support Nato forces amid fears that Russia may attack Ukraine.
Russia has gathered around 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders, and Western officials have warned of “grave consequences” for any entry. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said 1,000 US troops would be sent to Romania from Germany, and 2,000 from the US.
We must make clear to (President Vladimir) Putin and the world that NATO is crucial to the United States, Kirby said, adding that this is not the end of our deterrent activities. “These forces will not fight in Ukraine,” he said. “They are temporary moves. They react to the moment.” Meanwhile, a senior Kremlin official emphasised that Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping shared views on global security.
Putin accuses the West of not respecting Moscow’s security concerns.
According to the Kremlin, China will express its support for Russia’s position when Putin visits Beijing this week.
“China supports Russia’s requests for security guarantees,” Yury Ushakov told reporters.
Removing US-led military alliance forces from eastern Europe has been advocated by Russian leaders.
Putin hinted on Tuesday that Washington was using Kyiv to potentially lure Moscow into a war.
“Ukraine is only a tool to achieve this goal,” Putin added.
But Putin said he hoped “in the end we will find a solution.” The US and NATO have responded to Moscow’s demands in writing, which Putin is examining.
Washington and Nato offered Moscow arms limitation and trust-building measures, according to secret responses published by El Pais on Wednesday.
The plans maintain that Ukraine and other countries can apply to join the alliance.
“Reciprocal promises by both the US and Russia to refrain from installing offensive ground-launched missile systems and permanent forces with a combat purpose in the territory of Ukraine,” the US answer says. In support of Ukraine, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte visited Kiev and met President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Post-talks, Zelensky stated that Ukraine seeks “only peace” but retains the right to self-defence. The Ukrainian leader had met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson the day before, and they were to talk on Wednesday.
Plans for joint military drills between Russia and Belarus, where Washington estimates Moscow will send 30,000 troops, have exacerbated tensions.
While stating that “conflict is not inevitable,” Kirby accused Putin of “destabilising the atmosphere by sending more forces to his country’s western border with Belarus.” Tanks sped through icy fields in Belarus and military aircraft flew overhead as both countries’ armies prepared for the February 10-20 training.
Since Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014, Ukraine has been fighting separatist insurgencies in two regions.
The conflict, Europe’s last major war, has killed almost 13,000 people.