The Biden administration announced Wednesday that the United States will send another 3,000 troops to Europe, further escalating tensions with Russia as diplomatic efforts to avert war over Ukraine remain at an impasse.
After the U.S. formally rejected Russia’s demands last week, the State Department confirmed that leaked documents showing its response in the standoff are authentic, Fox News reported.
State Department confirms Russia leaks
The State Department’s Ned Price said he had “seen nothing to suggest these documents are not authentic.”
The leaked documents, published by Spanish newspaper El Pais, contained few surprises. The Biden administration and NATO reaffirmed their basic position at the heart of the conflict, dismissing Russia’s core demand that Ukraine never be allowed into NATO.
In the response, issued last week, the United States also floated a reciprocal “transparency mechanism” to assuage Russia’s concerns about missile sites in Romania and Poland, both NATO allies, that Russian leader Vladimir Putin has alleged could be used to attack his country, the New York Times reported.
That offer did not appear to satisfy Putin, who accused the West of ignoring his demands and trying to bait Russia into war using Ukraine as a pawn, the AP reported.
Russia has 100,000 troops massed around Ukraine’s borders, but the Kremlin says it does not intend to invade and that aggression from the Western alliance is to blame for the crisis.
Diplomacy gridlocked as tensions mount
With diplomacy gridlocked, the crisis has continued to heat up. Russia condemned President Biden’s decision Wednesday to send more troops to Europe as “destructive” to diplomacy.
“The unfounded destructive steps will only fuel military tensions and narrow the field for political decisions,” Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said.
The troops are headed to Poland and Romania, the Pentagon’s John Kirby said Wednesday, calling the troop presence “temporary.” The buildup in Central and Eastern Europe is meant to reassure NATO allies there that America is “prepared to defend” them.
The Biden administration has also sent tons of weapons to Ukraine but denies any plans to deploy troops there.
President Biden threw diplomacy into chaos last week with a garbled phone call in which he told Ukraine’s leader that an attack was virtually certain in the coming weeks. Volodymyr Zelensky appeared to rebuke Biden at a press conference where he criticized Western “panic” over a Russian invasion.