Many of the nearly 5,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division who arrived in Poland last week are collaborating with Polish forces to establish processing centres for tens of thousands of people, including Americans, who are expected to flee neighbouring Ukraine if Russia launches a full-scale invasion of the country, according to U.S. military officials. The 82nd Airborne Division is one of the largest combat units in the world.
The Biden administration has said on several occasions that U.S. soldiers would neither fight in Ukraine or rescue Americans who have been trapped there as a result of a Russian strike. However, U.S. commanders and their Polish counterparts have begun prepping sections of multiple Polish military sites, as well as constructing tents for probable evacuation, in preparation for the next storm.
So far, according to American authorities, there have been few, if any, persons who have shown an interest in using the facilities. However, according to Pentagon sources, a widespread war on Ukraine may result in one million to five million refugees, with many of them fleeing to Poland.
As a result, the greatest influx of migrants into Europe since roughly a million Syrian refugees entered in 2015 is possible, an influx that had a significant influence on European politics by strengthening far-right groups.
In a speech in Warsaw on Friday, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III warned that “tens of thousands of displaced Ukrainians and others” might cross the border into Poland in an attempt to spare themselves and their families from the “scourge of war.”
On being questioned about the possibility of a battle between American and Russian forces straying into Ukraine, Mr. Austin attempted to assuage worries that the incident may evolve into a showdown between the two countries.
According to Mr. Austin, who spoke to ABC News in an interview that aired on Sunday, “we will make every effort to safeguard our soldiers and our Polish allies to ensure that there is no overflow.”
Officials in Poland have said that they are ready for the worse. “We are prepared to assist any and all of those who will be compelled to leave Ukraine,” said Mariusz Blaszczak, the Polish defence minister, who was present at the event with Mr. Austin in Warsaw. In our nation’s experience with World War II, we understand what it means to provide assistance, and we are prepared to do so for anybody who needs it or who suffers as a result of an attack.
Another 1,000 American soldiers, including a Stryker squadron from the Army’s Second Cavalry Regiment, arrived in Romania on Saturday after crossing the border from Germany. In addition, the Air Force has sent more than a dozen extra fighter planes to Eastern Europe in recent days to boost the region’s air defences against missile attacks.
The American reinforcements more than quadruple the number of American ground forces in the two nations, bringing the total number of American ground troops in Poland and Romania to over 9,000 and almost 2,000, respectively.
Officials from the United States believe that Russia has amassed 190,000 soldiers in and surrounding Ukraine. According to reports, the Kremlin authorised the deployment of soldiers into two eastern Ukrainian provinces where rebels allied with Russia and Ukrainian government forces have been engaged in a long-running conflict for years.
Pentagon officials have cautioned that the Biden administration may deploy even more soldiers to NATO partners in Eastern Europe if the country’s economy continues to struggle. NATO members Poland and Romania are both members of the alliance, although Ukraine is not a member of NATO.
The expansion of airborne forces in Eastern Europe is fraught with danger. US and Russian jets flying in the eastern Mediterranean Sea came within five feet of each other in three different instances earlier this month, according to Pentagon sources, including one in which the aircraft got within approximately five feet of each other.
The Pentagon has placed 8,500 more soldiers in the United States on “high alert” for potential deployment to Eastern Europe, in addition to the deployments to Poland and Romania already announced. According to military authorities, the soldiers would be sent to a NATO reaction force that could be launched as soon as next week.
Soldiers on active duty on the ground, including combat brigades, as well as those in medical, aviation, transportation, and intelligence and surveillance units make up the majority of those placed on heightened alert.