Pentagon chief orders 160 US troops in Ukraine to reposition in Europe
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is ordering 160 troops in Ukraine to be repositioned in Europe.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby tweeted Saturday that Austin has ordered 160 Florida National Guardsmen out of Ukraine and into Europe temporarily.
“Abundance of caution, safety and security of our personnel his paramount concern. We remain committed to our relationship with the Ukrainian armed forces,” Kirby said.
The decision came after Austin had a call with Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu.
The Department of Defense said the two discussed Russia’s build up of troops and equipment along Ukraine’s border.
Russia has more than 140,000 troops on the border of Ukraine as well as military vehicles and helicopters. The buildup has remained for weeks now, prompting the U.S., Canada, U.K. and its allies that Russia will invade.
The announcement from Kirby comes as the U.S. continues to encourage Americans — both government employees and other citizens — to leave the Ukraine amid threats of Russian aggression.
White House Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Friday that the U.S. would not send in troops to the country for rescue missions should Americans choose to stay in the former Soviet state.
The State Department announced early Saturday morning that it was evacuating most employees from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, citing the military situation on the border.
U.S. officials say an attack by Russia could happen at any time in the near future.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Saturday there will be a “resolute, massive, and united Transatlantic response” if an invasion occurs, and thousands of U.S. troops have been sent to Poland amid rising tensions.