On Tuesday, President Biden ordered the deployment of US forces that are already in Europe to the Baltic states, a move he said was a response to Russia’s decision to keep troops in Belarus after drills concluded.
“Today, in response to Russia’s admission that it will not withdraw its forces from Belarus, I have authorized additional movements of US forces and equipment already stationed in Europe to strengthen our Baltic allies — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania,” Biden said.
According to Military Times, the forces being sent to the Baltics include 800 soldiers from an Italy-based infantry battalion, up to eight Germany-based F-35 fighter jets, and a German-based attack aviation battalion with 20 Apache helicopters. The US is also moving 12 Apaches from Greece to Poland.
Biden framed the deployment as “defensive” in nature and insisted that the US has “no intention of fighting Russia.” He also announced fresh sanctions on Russia in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s move to formally recognize the breakaway republics of Donestk and Luhansk in the Donbas.
The US and NATO have been working to build up forces in what they call the alliance’s “eastern flank,” which includes the Baltic states, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. Last week, NATO defense ministers agreed to work on plans for new battlegroup deployments in Eastern Europe.
Germany said Tuesday that it is ready to deploy more troops to Lithuania and other “eastern flank” countries after Putin’s Donbas recognition.