As Russia appears moving closer to annexing more of Ukraine, the U.S. is reportedly considering stationing an additional Army brigade in Europe. (Richard Bumgardner / DoD)
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As Russia appears moving closer to annexing more of Ukraine, the U.S. is reportedly considering stationing an additional Army brigade in Europe.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Bloomberg in an April 3 interview that Air Force Gen. Phillip Breedlove, head of NATO, is considering a number of options to make sure it can adequately protect the 28 members of the alliance.
When asked if one option included stationing a third Army brigade combat team in Europe, Hagel responded by saying, ‘That’s all part of the measures that could be considered,’” Bloomberg reported.
In recent years, the number of Army brigade combat teams in Europe has fallen from four to two. Currently, the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment is stationed in Vilseck, Germany and the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team is based in Vicenza, Italy.
“General Breedlove is working options and will present them to civilian leaders in Washington and Brussels later this month,” a defense official told Army Times on Monday. “Secretary Hagel wants to hear his views and until that time is not ruling out ideas.”
Tensions in Europe have increased dramatically after the pro-Russian government in Ukraine in February following popular protests. Russia responded by sending troops to the Crimea region of Ukraine and annexing incorporating the territory into the Russian Federation.
Russia reportedly has about 40,000 troops on its border with Ukraine and there are indications that it may annex parts of eastern Ukraine.
Russia’s state-run news agency ITAR-TASS reported on Monday that the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine has declared itself a “People’s Republic” and local officials have asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to send peacekeepers there ahead of a referendum by May 11 on whether to join the Russian Federation. Pro-Russian demonstrations were also held Sunday in the Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv and Luhansk.
“March 1, 2014, Russia’s Federation Council gave its consent to the president for using the armed forces on the territory of Ukraine,” ITAR-TASS reported on Monday. “The relevant decision was unanimously adopted by the upper house of Russian parliament at an extraordinary session. Earlier, Vladimir Putin submitted to the Federation Council an address on using the armed forces of Russia on the territory of Ukraine until the normalization of the socio-political situation in that country.”