WASHINGTON The US Department of Defense announced that nearly 8,500 US troops have been placed on heightened alert for a possible deployment in response to escalating tensions along the Russia-Ukraine border, but no formal deployments have been announced.
The Defense Department's spokesperson, John Kirby, stated during a press briefing on Monday that the US is increasing its readiness to respond to a possible decision by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to deploy its 40,000-strong multinational response force, dubbed the NRF, which could be bolstered on short notice.
"This is really about reassuring NATO's eastern flank," Kirby said, adding that the order, issued by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on President Joe Biden's direction, was aimed at "demonstrating how seriously the US takes our commitment to NATO" and the alliance's collective defence commitment.
"In total, the Secretary has placed approximately 8,500 personnel on heightened alert," the spokesperson said. Additionally, the spokesperson reiterated Biden's position that the US will not send troops into Ukraine if war breaks out between Kiev and Moscow, but that the West remains committed to deterring the Kremlin from launching an invasion through the threat of sanctions and military assistance to Ukraine.