U.S. troops in Ukraine are pulling out as U.S. officials are growing increasingly concerned of an impending Russian invasion.
160 Florida National Guard soldiers, the only known U.S. troops in the country, are being repositioned elsewhere in Europe, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement released Saturday morning.
Those troops, assigned to the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, were a part of a previously planned training mission with Ukrainian forces, mostly operating far from the country's border where Russian President Vladimir Putin has amassed some 130,000 troops. U.S. troops from different units have been rotating to train Ukraine's military since 2015, with the Florida soldiers arriving in November as Russian forces were amassing.
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Biden has pledged that U.S. troops will not fight in Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO. But the news comes as thousands of U.S. soldiers, alongside troops from other European powers including the United Kingdom and France, mobilize to bolster NATO's eastern flank.
The Biden administration continues to escalate its warning about the likelihood of war.
A senior State Department official told reporters Saturday that it is "past time" for Americans to leave Ukraine, saying routine embassy services, such as help with passports, in Kyiv will be suspended on Sunday as key personnel evacuate.
"It appears increasingly likely this situation is heading toward active conflict...there are limits of what we can do in a war zone," the senior State Department official told reporters.
On Friday, President Joe Biden ordered an additional 3,000 paratroopers from Fort Bragg, North Carolina to Poland. Those forces, along with the original 1,700 mobilized earlier this month, are expected to be in place within a few days. Roughly 1,000 U.S. troops with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, a Stryker squadron based out of Germany, are in the midst of deploying to Romania.
-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.
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