Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued orders for National Guard troops deployed last November from Florida to Ukraine to leave and deploy elsewhere in Europe, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Saturday.
The order by Austin is for 160 members of the Florida National Guard, assigned to the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, who were deployed to Ukraine since last fall to temporarily relocate elsewhere in Europe.
These U.S. service members have been advising the Ukrainian military since last November as part of the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine.
Kirby said in a written statement “The Secretary made this decision out of an abundance of caution, with the safety and security of our personnel foremost in mind, and informed by the State Department’s guidance on U.S. personnel in Ukraine.” He added, “This repositioning does not signify a change in our determination to support Ukraine’s Armed Forces, but will provide flexibility in assuring allies and deterring aggression.”
“This repositioning does not signify a change in our determination to support Ukraine’s Armed Forces, but will provide flexibility in assuring allies and deterring aggression,” Kirby added.
The White House reported that President Joe Biden’s conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin began at 11:04 a.m. ET and lasted for about an hour.
A White House readout of the call said Biden made it clear that, if Russia, undertakes a further invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. and its allies and partners will impose “swift and sever costs on Russia.”
Biden said that while the U.S. remains prepared to engage in diplomacy, “we are equally prepared for other scenarios.”