Some 8,500 combat-ready U.S. troops are on high alert to be deployed to Europe at short notice, the Pentagon said on Monday amid rising tensions at the Russian-Ukrainian border.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said a decision to send them will be made if developments take place near the Ukrainian border or if NATO decides to deploy a rapid reaction force, the BBC reported.
"Today we are not talking about orders to send troops. We do not have such orders," the spokesman said. "This demonstrates how seriously the United States takes its commitment to NATO."
There are no plans to deploy to Ukraine itself, he added.
The Pentagon's announcement comes at a time when Western experts say Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine and an estimated 120,000 troops have been deployed near its borders. Russia denies a future attack
Yesterday, NATO said it is putting extra forces on standby and sending more ships and fighter jets to Eastern Europe. The U.S. and U.K. are mulling sending more troops to the Baltics.
There have been NATO battlegroups in the Baltics since 2017.
Editor: Helen Wright