SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV)- The United States has thousands of troops in Europe as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine intensifies, but President Joe Biden made it clear Thursday those troops will not be engaged in the conflict.
“Although we provided over $650 million in defensive assistance to Ukraine, just this year, last year, let me say it again, our forces are not and will not be engaged in the conflict with Russia in Ukraine,” said Biden.
Instead, he said troops are defending every inch of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) territory, as well as reassuring NATO allies.
“I’ve authorized the deployment of ground and air forces already stationed in Europe to NATOS’s eastern flank allies, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania,” the president said.
In addition to defending NATO allies, retired Marine Corps Intelligence Officer Hal Kempfer said he expects the troops moving from Western to Eastern Europe to help those fleeing Ukraine.
“One of the things I fully expect to see, and we’re already seeing it, is this massive influx of refugees going into Poland and Eastern Europe,” said Kempfer. “With that, we’re going to have to have a massive humanitarian aid effort in setting up refugee camps, refugee support, all these things necessary. We’re going to see some things that we frankly haven’t seen before. We have not seen something like this in Europe since World War II.”
NATO member countries border Ukraine; if Russia attacks one of those countries, the U.S. would be required to step in.
“If U.S. forces or NATO forces go into direct conflict with Russia, at that point you have major nuclear-armed powers, in armed conflict with each other, we have been trying to avoid that since, well since World War II,” said Kempfer.
“If NATO gets involved, we’ll get involved, and Ukraine is not part of NATO, so all we can do is lend support and aid, but we can’t actually get involved in the conflict. If there is an active aggression, I think that is really what I think is the tripwire, that would then require us to respond,” said Richard Martindell, a retired Air Force Pilot.
He said he has studied soviet awareness, history, and mentality of Russian leadership, based on the history of aggression.
“The whole world should be worried; I think President Putin has really just gone off the deep end. You have to go back and understand that the Soviets are actually paranoid about protecting mother Russia; they’ve been invaded multiple times, they’ve lost millions of people to conflict, they will not let that happen again, so anything that threatens them gets their attention right away. I don’t think Putin needed any stimulus to attack Ukraine.”
Biden said NATO leaders would hold a virtual summit Friday to discuss the next steps.
“NATO will convene a summit will be there to bring together the leaders of 30 allied nations and close partners to affirm our solidarity, and to map out the next steps we will take to further strengthen all aspects of our NATO Alliance,” said Biden.