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As Ukraine crisis worsens, soldiers from Fort Drum headed to Europe

File photograph of 10th Mountain Division soldiers preparing to deploy.
File photograph of 10th Mountain Division soldiers preparing to deploy.(WWNY)
Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 10:36 AM EST
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FORT DRUM, New York (WWNY) - Soldiers from Fort Drum are deploying to Europe as part of a 3,000 troop build-up ordered by the Biden administration.

In a statement late Wednesday, a Drum spokesperson said approximately 200 soldiers will deploy.

There was no announcement of where they will go, or from what units. Fort Drum was expected to release more information Thursday.

Word of the deployment comes as tensions mount between Russia and the U.S. over Ukraine.

President Joe Biden is ordering 2,000 U.S.-based troops to Poland and Germany and shifting 1,000 more from Germany to Romania, demonstrating to both allies and foes America’s commitment to NATO’s eastern flank amid fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

The 3,000 troop deployment is in addition to the 8,500 U.S. troops put on heightened alert last week.

The Biden administration is aiming to demonstrate U.S. resolve without undermining efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Biden notably has not sent military reinforcements to the three Baltic countries on NATO’s eastern flank — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — that are former states of the Soviet Union.

No U.S. troops are being sent to Ukraine, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday said the administration has stopped calling a Russian invasion “imminent,” because that word implies Washington knows Putin has made a decision to invade. Officials say Putin’s intentions remain unclear.

However, increasing U.S. troop levels in Eastern Europe is exactly what Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he finds intolerable, along with the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO. The U.S. already has several thousand troops in Poland, and Romania is host to a NATO missile defense system that Russia considers a threat. The U.S. presence in the region has increased since 2014 when Russia made its first invasion of Ukraine.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the soon-to-deploy U.S. forces are intended to temporarily bolster U.S. and allied defensive positions.

“These are not permanent moves,” he said, stressing that the purpose is to reassure allies. Kirby said Russia had continued its buildup, even in the previous 24 hours, despite U.S. urgings that it deescalate.

North country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik issued the following statement about the announcement from Fort Drum:

“Once again, our nation has called upon the 10th Mountain Division to meet our most pressing national security challenges. The 10th Mountain Division was one of the first conventional units deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11 and one of the last to leave. For over 20 years of war, the 10th Mountain Division became the most deployed Division in the U.S. Army, and now, the men and women at Fort Drum will once again be protecting our national security interests. This deployment to our NATO allies in Europe is a testament to the courage and capabilities the 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum bring to protect American national security.”

- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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