by Rana Irby
American troop numbers are building up in Eastern Europe as tensions between Russia and Ukraine intensify. Over the past few weeks, thousands of U.S. soldiers have arrived in the area as Russia has been increasing troops along its border with Ukraine. In the midst of this, concerns have risen that the prospect of an invasion of Ukraine by Russia is imminent. While the U.S. mission doesn’t involve engaging in combat, there is reason to believe military increase in light of an already fraught situation will further exacerbate hostilities.
In his assessment of the situation last month, Rehumanize Staff Editor John Whitehead noted the potential of the stand-off between Russia and Ukraine to become an all-out war and laid out the background of the situation. Since then, that potential has increased to a threat of becoming an imminent reality. A February 9th CNN report noted Russia sent an additional 2,000 soldiers to the Ukraine border in the 24 hours prior to its publishing and has around 100,000 troops total in the area. In response, the U.S. has deployed troops to Eastern Europe.
The White House is adding 3,000 combat troops to the 1,700 already stationed in Poland to show American support of NATO allies concerned about a Russian invasion of Ukraine. The troops will be training and providing deterrence. Additionally, 1,000 soldiers stationed in Germany have been sent to Romania. They won’t, however, get involved in any combat in Ukraine. Prior to this, a warning was issued by the State Department to all Americans in Ukraine to leave the country as soon as possible and announced a reduction of staff at the embassy in Kyiv. The troops in Poland will be establishing processing centers and temporary shelters for Americans leaving Ukraine.
As Whitehead noted in his piece, Russia has asked for a decrease in western military presence in the area. Given this, Russia could likely see the current actions by the U.S. government as a pretext for escalation. The increase in the possibility of escalation means an increased need for policymakers to consider the ramifications of military action, even if it doesn’t involve combat. The time is now to seriously consider diplomacy to deal with this conflict.