Why is the US sending troops to Ukraine? How many troops will be sent to Europe?
Tensions continue to grow on the border between Ukraine and Russia as the United States continues to send thousands of troops to the region.
The United States will be sending 2,000 more troops to Germany, Poland, and Romania to stand ready in the event Russia does invade Ukraine. This will bring the total to 3,000. In addition to sending troops, the US has also sent "lethal aid," which consist of weapons and other military equipment.
Currently, Vladimir Putin has positioned around 100,000 troops in Belarus and on Russia's side of the border with Ukraine.
The Ukrainian government has said that they have not asked for any further troop support and would like their allies to work to reduce tensions through diplomatic channels or through the sending weapons so that they can better defend themselves.
Will Russia invade Ukraine?
Tensions are reaching their highest point in decades, but there is little consensus on whether an invasion by Russia will materialize. Before the attack on Crimea in 2014, Russian state television was broadcasting about the invasion to prepare the population. No coordinated media strategy has been rolled out this time, leading some to believe that Putin is just flexing his muscles and sending a warning to the West.
Additionally to calm the population, the Ukrainian government has pointed out that they do not believe the number of troops Russia has mobilized is enough for a full scale invasion.
However, mixed messages have led to a more complicated situation as the US and UK felt it was necessary to evacuate their embassy staffs in late January. On 23 January, the State Department announced that it had "authorized the departure of some U.S. Government employees, while we have ordered the departure of all family members of U.S. Government employees at our embassy in Kyiv." Leaders at the Department warned that in the case Russia invades, the US federal government "will not be in a position to evacuate U.S. citizens in such a contingency."
This news came as a surprise to the Ukrainian governmetn who accused the US of trying to create more tension and fear.
What spark led to the escalation in tensions?
During a press conference on 2 February, Vladimir Putin broke his silence on Ukraine and provided an update on the conversations he has had with the United States. Putin said that he felt like his demands had been ignored, but did not comment on why he continued to have troops stationed around the Ukrainian border.
Putin has demanded that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO and called for all offensive weapons to be taken out of countries that border Russian. Putin fears that if Ukraine were to become a NATO ally that they would try to recapture the Crimean peninsula which could lead to a war between Russia and the NATO block.
During the press conference, he asked "Are we supposed to go to war with the NATO bloc?" continuing to say "Has anyone given that any thought? Apparently not."