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    “We will deploy 8500 soldiers to Ukraine if Russia invades” – US Govt. says

    The Pentagon has said 8500 US troops are on standby to deploy at short notice to Europe, should Russia invade Ukraine.

    Russia continues to deny planning military action against Ukraine, despite massing 100,000 troops at the border saying it sees Nato as a security threat, and is demanding legal guarantees that the alliance will not expand further east, including into neighbouring Ukraine. But the US has said the issue at stake is Russian aggression, not Nato expansion.

    On Monday night, January 24, US President Joe Biden held a video call with European allies as Western countries plan for a common strategy against Russian aggression.

    The Pentagon said troop deployment will happen if the Nato military alliance decides to activate a rapid-reaction force, “or if other situations develop” around the Russian troop build-up, according to Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.

    There are no plans to deploy to Ukraine itself, he added.

    Some Nato members, including Denmark, Spain, France and the Netherlands, are already planning sending fighter jets and warships to eastern Europe to bolster defences in the region.

    This comes after 90 tonnes of US “lethal aid” including ammunition for “front-line defenders” arrived in Ukraine over the weekend.

    Biden, Monday’s video call included UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg and EU leaders Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel.

    “I had a very, very, very good meeting – total unanimity with all the European leaders,”  Biden said afterwards.

    Earlier on Monday, Boris Johnson warned that “gloomy” intelligence suggests Russia is planning a lightning raid on the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

    “The intelligence is very clear that there are 60 Russian battle groups on the borders of Ukraine, the plan for a lightning war that could take out Kyiv is one that everybody can see,” he said.

    “We need to make it very clear to the Kremlin, to Russia, that that would be a disastrous step.”

    Russia has seized Ukrainian territory before, when it annexed Crimea in 2014. After Russian forces seized control, Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation in a referendum the West and Ukraine deemed illegal.

    Russian-backed rebels also control areas of eastern Ukraine near Russia’s borders. That conflict has cost an estimated 14,000 lives, with a 2015 peace deal a long way from being fulfilled.

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