Russia-Ukraine tensions: Pentagon says 8,500 troops ready to help NATO

Russia-Ukraine tensions: Pentagon says 8,500 troops ready to help NATO
Airmen and civilians from the 436th Aerial Port Squadron palletize ammunition, weapons and other equipment bound for Ukraine during a foreign military sales mission at Dover Air Force Base, in Delaware, U.S. January 21, 2022. U.S. Air Force/Mauricio Campino/Handout via REUTERS

The backstory:

  • This has many experts worried that Russia could be looking to invade Ukraine – eight years after the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea. But, Russia denies this and has sent demands to the West, one of which is that Ukraine (a former Soviet state) is banned from entering The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – an international military alliance. However, NATO has an open-door policy for anyone.
  • Western countries have threatened Russia with severe economic sanctions if they invade.
  • Last week, the United Kingdom was told to get ready to get into “crisis mode,” while the United States said that an invasion could happen on very short notice.

The developments:

  • The reason we’re saying “developments” is because a fair bit has happened in the past 24 hours or so. But in summary, NATO members are increasingly aligned in their stance – they’ll try to pursue diplomacy and talk it out with Russia, but for the most part, they’re also ready to fight from both a military standpoint as well as economically (e.g. sanctions) if Russia does invade.
  • While the US and UK have started moving the families of officials from Ukraine, the European Union (EU) has kept them there, saying that there are no signs of needing to move them just yet.
  • NATO has said that the military developments of the group of about 30 countries are not trying to threaten Russia but are for defense purposes.
  • For example, the US has put as many as 8,500 troops on high alert to help overall NATO forces in eastern Europe if needed. But they’re not deploying them now because diplomacy is still the preferred route. Denmark has sent a frigate to the Baltic Sea and deployed fighter jets to Lithuania. France has expressed that they’re ready to send troops to Romania if NATO needs them.
  • Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares has said that sanctions from the US and EU in response to military aggression from Russia would be ready to go tomorrow if needed. And Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said that Russia would see harsher sanctions than in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, leading to Russia being “totally isolated” if they do invade.
  • Meanwhile, President Putin still denies a plan to invade, with the Kremlin saying that it has observed a buildup of Ukrainian forces at the border and sees a “very high” risk of an offensive by Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.

What are some saying?

  • While European stocks have fallen and The Bank of Russia has taken measures to protect its currency, JP Morgan Chase & Co. has told its clients that it doesn’t think there will be a “full blown conflict.”
  • “We think that there will ultimately not be a full blown conflict, but the visibility is low and the potential for a rapid escalation exists.”
  • Biden will speak with European leaders on Monday about the situation.

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