- President Joe Biden said the US and its allies will “defend every inch of NATO territory” during a speech Tuesday.
- Biden added that he has authorized the movement of additional US troops to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
- The president stressed, though, that troops will not be sent into defend Ukraine from Russia.
President Joe Biden warned Russia the US and its allies will “defend every inch of NATO territory” during an address on Russia’s recent actions toward Ukraine. He also announced that some US forces will be headed to the Baltics to bolster NATO positions in the east.
The president said Russia had effectively announced it was “carving out a big chunk of Ukraine” when it recognized two territories in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine — Donetsk and Luhansk — as independent states. The US has also raised concerns about Putin ordering troops into these territories to serve as so-called “peacekeepers.”
Biden further assessed that Putin’s recognition of the whole of separatist claimed territory beyond what they actually control suggests that Putin is “setting up a rationale to take more territory by force.”
As the president announced new sanctions on Russia, he warned that Russia will pay an even “steeper price” if it continues to make aggressive moves against Ukraine.
During his address Tuesday afternoon, the president announced that he is directing “additional movements of US forces and equipment already stationed in Europe to strengthen our Baltic allies — Estonia, Lativa, and Lithuania.”
“We want to send an unmistakable message that the United States together with our allies will defend every inch of NATO territory and abide by the commitments we made,” Biden said, reiterating that “these are totally defensive moves on our part.” He added that “we have no intention of fighting Russia.”
Biden stressed that no US troops will be sent to Ukraine, which is not a NATO ally.
A senior defense official explained that aviation assets and ground forces will move into position along NATO’s northeastern and southeastern flanks. They are expected to be in place by the end of the week. The movement is said to be temporary.
US forces headed to the Baltics include an 800-man infantry battalion task force, F-35 fighter jets, and AH-64 attack helicopters. These forces are part of more than 90,000 US troops in Europe on a rotational and permanent basis, the official said.
Biden’s announcement follows reports in late January that suggested his administration was considering sending troops and military hardware to the Baltics amid concern over Russia.