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The US will keep 100,000 troops in Europe to counter Russia's threat, with Biden promising to 'step up'

President Biden said on Wednesday that the US will increase its long-term military presence in Europe to counter the threat of Russian expansion. This will include putting a permanent headquarters for American troops in Poland.

Biden said, "We're going to step up," as he stood next to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. "We are stepping up to show that NATO is more important and needed now than it has ever been."

Biden also said that the US will send two more squadrons of F-35 fighter jets to the UK, increase the number of destroyers stationed in Spain, send more troops to Romania on a rotating basis, increase the number of troops already on rotation in the Baltic states, and send air defenses and other capabilities to Germany and Italy.

The White House said that Biden's promises mean that the US will keep 100,000 troops in Europe for the "foreseeable future." This is 20,000 more than before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. During the Cold War, there were usually about 300,000 American troops in the area.

Joe Biden.
“We’re gonna step up,” President Biden vowed.
Denis Doyle/Getty Images
President Joe Biden (L) meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanks President Biden for the “unwavering support from you and from the United States to Ukraine.”
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Stoltenberg liked what Biden said at the start of the NATO summit in Madrid this week.

The secretary general told Biden, "This really shows your decisive leadership and strength in the trans-Atlantic bond." He also thanked Biden for the "unwavering support from you and the U.S. to Ukraine."

Top Polish officials also liked the fact that the US said it would put its first permanent base of forces on the eastern edge of NATO.

Military personnel work near F-35 fighter jet.
President Biden announced the US is sending two additional F-35 fighter jet squadrons to the UK.
Boris Grdanoski/AP
The US dock landing ship "USS Gunston Hall."
The US will increase the number of destroyers stationed in Spain.
Marcus Brandt/dpa via AP
Aviation Boatswains Mate signals to the pilots of the MV-22 Osprey assault support aircraft.
Air defenses and other capabilities will be dispatched to Germany and Italy.
Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images

“It is a success which comes from long and consistent negotiations on this matter and, at the same time, a very clear sign that the Americans intend to increase, not decrease, their presence in Poland,” Jakub Kumoch, the Polish president’s foreign policy advisor, told Reuters.

“Something that seemed impossible to many is becoming a fact today. We have a CONSTANT presence [US] in Poland,” Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz tweeted. “We care about common safety. It is also a clear signal for Moscow. We will continue to strive to strengthen Polish security.”

US officials stressed that the permanent basing was only for headquarters units of the Army's V Corps and not for combat troops. This was in line with a 1997 agreement between NATO and Russia, in which NATO agreed not to permanently base combat troops in Eastern Europe in order to build better relations in the post-Cold War world.

To stay in line with this agreement, the combat units that Biden is sending to Romania and the Baltic region are also not staying there permanently. Instead, they will be sent there on a rotating basis.

The US will maintain a presence of 100,000 troops in Europe.
Mosa'ab Elshamy/AP
The combat units President Biden is sending to Romania and the Baltic region are on rotational deployments.
Valda Kalnina/EPA
US troops on Gotland beach.
A permanent headquarters for American troops will be established in Poland.
James Brooks/AP

“There has been no communication with Moscow about these changes, nor is there a requirement to do that,” said John Kirby, a spokesman for Biden’s National Security Council.

Biden’s announcement came on the heels of NATO welcoming Finland and Sweden as the two newest members of the Atlantic Alliance after Turkey dropped their objections.

“Putin was looking for the Finland-ization of Europe,” Biden said Wednesday. “You’re gonna get the NATO-ization of Europe. And that’s exactly what he didn’t want, but exactly what needs to be done to guarantee security for Europe.”


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