US ready to send troops to NATO’s eastern flank

Washington: Washington is ready to send thousands more troops to NATO’s eastern flank if needed, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Saturday. “We have sent additional US forces to reinforce NATO allies and we have thousands on call ready to deploy if NATO activates its response forces,” Austin said during his visit to Lithuania. Austin also thanked Vilnius for the warm welcome of hundreds of additional NATO military who had already arrived in the country. On Friday, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda asked Austin and US Vice President Kamala Harris for the permanent deployment of a rotational battalion and an increase in US troops in Lithuania. Austin told journalists that he was not yet ready to announce anything in this regard. In the past few months, the West and Ukraine have accused Russia of amassing troops near the Ukrainian border in alleged preparation for invasion. Russia has insisted that it has no intention of invading Ukraine, while stressing that it has the right to move its forces within its own territory. Russia has also expressed concerns over NATO military activity near its borders and ongoing military support of Ukraine, including an increase in the number of Western instructors in the breakaway Donbas region. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow is not excluding that the “hysteria” around Ukraine fueled by the West is aimed at concealing Kiev’s plans to sabotage the Minsk Agreements on Donbas. UNI/SPUTNIK

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