The White House on Friday rejected a report that it was considering downsizing troop deployments and military exercises in Eastern Europe ahead of next week’s negotiations with Russia.
National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said the report from NBC News was not accurate.
“It’s not exactly that the administration is developing options to withdraw US forces in Eastern Europe in preparation for discussions with Russia next week, as we told NBC while reporting this story,” she said in an email to The Washington Times.
“In fact, we have been clear to Russia, publicly and privately, that should Russia further invade Ukraine, we would strengthen our NATO allies on the eastern flank, to whom we have a sacred obligation. We are closely linked to our NATO allies as we tackle this crisis together on the principle of “nothing about you without you,” she said.
Referring to an administration official and two former security officials, the report said the White House is compiling a list of options for changing the position of power in Europe to discuss with Russia. Officials reportedly told the business that Russia is willing to turn down its presence if the United States responds in kind.
Russia will have to reduce its troop level both in the region and in Ukraine, officials said. The mutual agreement would be a way to reduce tensions between the nations, as the fear that Russia could invade Ukraine, according to the news media.
Late. Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska on the Intelligence Committee, criticized the idea of the United States downgrading its troops’ presence in Eastern Europe.
“President Biden’s foreign policy consistently projects weakness, not strength. Putin is escalating tensions at Ukraine’s border for almost a year, and the Biden administration is responding with fluid troop reductions. This is the very definition of appeasement,” he said in a statement. “We need to send a strong message to Putin and reassure our European allies, but that will not happen if his national security advisers are already floating a US withdrawal.”
Officials from Washington and Russia are scheduled to meet on Monday in an attempt to lower the temperature, while Moscow gathers thousands of troops along Ukraine’s border, raising fears that Russia is planning an invasion similar to its annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014.
This meeting will be followed by a meeting in NATO-Russia Council on Wednesday and a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, of which Russia is a member.
Russia has demanded that the United States and NATO deny membership of Ukraine and roll back military level in Eastern Europe. It has also asked the United States not to build any military bases in countries that were former members of the Soviet Union and not part of NATO.
There are about 6,000 US forces stationed in Eastern Europe, including about 4,000 in Poland. Other members of the NATO alliance have thousands of troops rotating in the region.