Hundreds of 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) soldiers are gearing up to deploy to Europe as Russian troops have amassed on Ukraine's borders, positioned for a potential invasion.
The soldiers from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, are expected to deploy soon and will include a mix of support personnel and ground combat units, a spokesperson told Military.com. It is unclear which European countries these troops will deploy to, but mobilizations of U.S. combat troops to Europe have been concentrated in Poland and Romania, with some support personnel sent to Germany.
In total, roughly 6,000 U.S. soldiers are expected to be in place in Europe in the coming days and will join troops from other NATO partners, including the United Kingdom and France.
Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division, who will make up a majority of the surge of forces to Europe, have been trickling into Poland over the past two weeks. Meanwhile, soldiers with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, a Stryker squadron based in Germany, have been mobilized to Romania. Soldiers with the XVIII Airborne Corps, the administrative arm of the 82nd, have set up in Germany.
In addition to those mobilizing to Europe, roughly 80,000 U.S. troops are already on the continent, including those permanently stationed there, such as the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Italy, and troops rotating in as part of pre-planned missions that mostly involve training with NATO allies.
These rotations include 3,800 soldiers from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, whose arsenal includes 80 M1 Abrams tanks and 130 Bradley Fighting Vehicles. Roughly 1,000 National Guardsmen are also operating in Europe, mostly in Poland.
President Joe Biden has ruled out U.S. troops fighting in Ukraine, which is not a NATO member. Over the weekend, 160 soldiers with the Florida National Guard who were on a training mission in Ukraine were pulled out of the country, preventing a potential confrontation with Russian troops.
On Tuesday, Russia's Ministry of Defence claimed that some of its 100,000 troops positioned on Ukraine's borders were returning to their respective bases. However, Russian officials offered no evidence on the drawdown nor specified how many troops would be removed from the front lines.
"We in Ukraine have a rule: we don't believe what we hear, we believe what we see. If a real withdrawal follows these statements, we will believe in the beginning of a real de-escalation," Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's minister of foreign affairs, said in a statement Tuesday.
-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.