NATO sending ships, jets to Eastern Europe

NATO announced on Monday that it is deploying additional ships and fighter jets to Eastern Europe, a move that comes amid increased tensions between Russia and Ukraine and concerns that Moscow is planning a military incursion against Kyiv. 

“NATO Allies are putting forces on standby and sending additional ships and fighter jets to NATO deployments in eastern Europe, reinforcing Allied deterrence and defense as Russia continues its military build-up in and around Ukraine,” the alliance said in a statement.

NATO did not identify how many ships and fighter jets it was deploying to Eastern Europe or specify where exactly the increased presence would be deployed.

The alliance’s announcement came one day after reports surfaced that President Biden is weighing dispatching more U.S. troops to NATO countries amid heightened tensions with Moscow. 

The New York Times reported that options on the table include deployments of between 1,000 and 5,000 troops to Eastern European countries, with the possibility of that number growing by tenfold if circumstances in the region ramp up.

NATO recognized the possibility of the U.S. also increasing its military presence in the region.

“The United States has also made clear that it is considering increasing its military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance,” the alliance said in a statement.

NATO pointed to a number of allied nations recently announcing current or upcoming deployments: Denmark is sending a frigate to the Baltic Sea and is planning to deploy four fighter jets to Lithuania, and Spain is dispatching ships to join NATO naval forces and is mulling the deployment of fighter jets to Bulgaria.

Additionally, France has said it is prepared to direct troops to Romania under NATO command, while the Netherlands is deploying two fighter aircraft to Bulgaria to assist NATO's air-policing efforts in the area and has land-based divisions on standby for NATO’s Response Force, according to the alliance.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he welcomes the deployment of allied forces to NATO.

“NATO will continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend all Allies, including by reinforcing the eastern part of the Alliance. We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment, including through strengthening our collective defense,” he added.

The alliance’s increased deployment comes as Russia has more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border, striking fear among the U.S. and its allies that Moscow is planning to invade the former Soviet state. Russia, however, has denied having any such plans.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the West is illustrating "hysteria" and dispatching information "laced with lies," according to Reuters.

"As for specific actions, we see statements by the North Atlantic Alliance about reinforcement, pulling forces and resources to the eastern flank. All this leads to the fact that tensions are growing," Peskov said.

"This is not happening because of what we, Russia, are doing. This is all happening because of what NATO and the U.S. are doing and due to the information they are spreading," he added.

The U.S. has warned that any incursion by Russia into Ukraine would be met with a serious, unified reaction. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday said a “swift, a severe and a unified response” would follow from the U.S. and Europe “if a single additional Russian force goes into Ukraine in an aggressive way.”

NATO’s deployment announcement came one day after the U.S. directed all family members of government employees at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv to leave the country, and authorized the departure of nonessential staffers. The State Department cited reports that “Russia is planning significant military action against Ukraine” in its advisory.

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