Soldiers from Fort Bragg's 82nd Airborne Division are deploying to Europe as tensions continue to grow with Russia over a possible invasion of Ukraine.
The Pentagon did not give an exact timeline for the deployment, but said it would be in the next couple of days, Department of Defense Press Secretary John Kirby said Wednesday.
Moscow has been building up troops on the border with Ukraine for months. Tensions between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the West have only grown in recent weeks, even as they held talks meant to defuse the situation.
Kirby said about 2,000 soldiers from Fort Bragg will deploy, including an infantry brigade combat team from the 82nd Airborne to Poland and a joint taskforce headquarters from the 18th Airborne Corps to Germany.
“Collectively, this force is trained and equiped for a variety of missions to deter aggression, and to reassure and defend our allies,” Kirby said during a news conference Wednesday. "We worked very closely with our Polish and German allies to set the stage for these movements."
President Joe Biden will also send about 1,000 troops based in Germany to Romania, he said.
"These are not permanent moves," Kirby said. The deployments could change, he said, leaving the door open for more United States troops to be deployed to Europe.
The president recently ordered 8,500 troops to prepare for possible deployment to Eastern Europe. The Pentagon said these 2,000 troops from Fort Bragg and the 1,000 already in Europe are separate from the units ordered to prepare for deployment.
The 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, is an Army infantry division set up for rapid deployment. The division regularly deploys to send some of the first troops to hotspots around the world.
Russia denies that it plans to invade Ukraine, but there are more than 100,000 Russian troops massed on the border, according to the Associated Press.
“We have no intention of putting American forces or NATO forces in Ukraine,” President Joe Biden said, the AP reports. If Russia did invade, the president threatened economic sanctions.
Last month, the State Department ordered families of its employees at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to leave the country. Non-essential embassy staff can also leave on government expense, the department said.
"There are reports Russia is planning significant military action against Ukraine. The security conditions, particularly along Ukraine’s borders, in Russia-occupied Crimea, and in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine, are unpredictable and can deteriorate with little notice," the State Department warned in January.
The State Department has advised U.S. citizens not to travel to Ukraine because of a possible Russian invasion, on top of existing travel warnings over COVID-19.
"U.S. citizens in Ukraine should be aware that Russian military action anywhere in Ukraine would severely impact the U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services, including assistance to U.S. citizens in departing Ukraine," the department said.
This is not the first time Russia has threatened Ukraine, which was once part of the Soviet Union. In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula and backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, along the Russian border. The sides have been under a tenuous ceasefire since 2015.
Russia, for its part, blames NATO for increasing tensions on the border. Moscow has repeatedly said it does not want Ukraine to be part of NATO, seeing the alliance as a threat to Russia.