US Troops Deployed in Eastern Europe amid Ukraine Tensions

Written by | Thursday, April 24th, 2014

The US announced on Tuesday (22 April) it was sending hundreds of troops to four countries in Eastern Europe to take part in military exercises to assure the NATO allies of its commitment to the region’s defense amid escalating tensions in neighboring Ukraine. A total of 600 US troops that are to be deployed to Poland and the three Baltic countries – Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – will conduct live ammunition exercises with forces from the four host states. The US Pentagon explicitly stated that the move was in direct response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, notably its annexation of Crimea last month following a referendum which the US and the EU have not recognized. According to a statement from Pentagon, “If there’s a message to Moscow, it is the exact same message, that we take our obligations very, very seriously on the continent of Europe.” However, the Pentagon statement also specified that the decision was more than about symbolism because NATO has already ruled out military intervention in Ukraine.
Since the annexation of Crimea, the tensions have also spread to eastern Ukraine with armed pro-Russia forces occupying areas and refusing to leave until the country’s acting government steps down. The tensions have been further escalated with tens of thousands of Russian elite troops being massed on the Ukrainian border, which have raised eyebrows around the EU and made EU states neighboring Russia and Ukraine particularly nervous. While the EU as a whole has struggled to find a coherent response, as it took account the protection of its economic and energy interests, the US has been more forthright in its response although military intervention has been ruled out. Vice President Joe Biden after a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on Tuesday told Kiev that it will not walk this “difficult road” alone.
Meanwhile, a senior US official accused Russia yesterday (23 April) of failing to fulfill its part of an international agreement to defuse tension in Ukraine and warned that Washington would only wait much longer for the accord to be implemented. Under the deal from Geneva, the European Union, Russia, Ukraine and the United States agreed that illegal armed groups in Ukraine would go home in a process to be overseen by Europe’s OSCE security watchdog. But no sooner had the accord been signed, than both sides accused the other of breaking it, while the pro-Moscow rebels disavowed the pledge to withdraw from occupied buildings.

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