US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Russia will not attack NATO countries yes Washington’s decision to deepen its involvement in the Ukraine conflict.
Kirby was asked on Wednesday during a press conference whether the US-led military alliance has enough troops to fend off a possible Russian attack on its eastern flank in case of a major escalation in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“All I can tell you is we’ve seen absolutely no indication that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has designs on striking NATO territory,” the spokesman said, while stressing that US President Joe Biden is taking Washington’s Article 5 commitments “seriously.” NATO’s Article 5 states that an attack on one member of the alliance is an attack on all of its members.
Kirby noted that the US has deployed an additional 20,000 troops in Europe, bringing their total number to 100,000, adding that NATO is “confident that we have the capability, the energy, the talent, the manpower, the resources to meet our Article 5 commitments.”
Last week, senior US officials said that the several thousand US troops currently stationed in Romania near the Ukraine border will remain there for at least nine more months, according to a New York Times report.
US officials said on Saturday that there are about 4,000 American soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division who have been deployed at the sprawling Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base since last summer, including small groups of troops that frequently train right on Romania’s border with Ukraine, the Times reported.
Over the last year, the airbase has become a training hub for NATO forces in southeast Europe. The forces would be a first line of defense should Russia invade further west, according to the report.
The Biden administration has been increasing the deployment of American forces in Europe at Russia’s doorstep since the country launched a military operation in neighboring Ukraine. The deployment also included about 12,000 American troops, currently based in western Poland, to work with NATO forces in Poland and the Baltic states.
Washington has also supplied weapons worth billions of dollars to Ukraine and trained its forces to fight against Russia.
Russia has described the US military presence on NATO’s eastern flank as a threat. In late October, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov warned that “the closer American troops are to our borders, the greater danger we are in.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that the US-led West is waging a “hybrid war” against Russia in Ukraine.
“The United States has unequivocally declared that it seeks to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia. It’s impossible to ignore reality,” the ministry added.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the US is directly involved in the Ukraine war by supplying the country with weapons and training its soldiers.
“You shouldn’t say that the US and NATO aren’t taking part in this war. You are directly participating in it,” Lavrov said last month. “And not just by providing weapons but also by training personnel. You are training their military on your territory, on the territories of Britain, Germany, Italy and other countries.”
Lavrov said the US and its NATO allies are trampling on international law while trying to isolate and destroy Russia.