Around 4,700 members of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division have been deployed to NATO country Romania as the war between Ukraine and Russia continues with no end in sight.
The troop movement is the first time the unit has been deployed to Europe in roughly 80 years, or since the World War II era, according to CBS.
“We’re ready to defend every inch of NATO soil,” Brigadier Gen. John Lubas said.
“We bring a unique capability, from our air assault capability … We’re a light infantry force, but again, we bring that mobility with us, for our aircraft and air assaults,” he said.
The 101st Airborne is part of a wider deployment of troops to protect NATO allies in case the war spills over into NATO nations.
As of June, the Defense Department estimated an additional 20,000 American troops were sent to Europe due to the war.
“The real meaning for me, to have the American troops here, is like if you were to have allies in Normandy before any enemy was there,” Romanian Maj. Gen. Lulian Berdila said, according to CBS.
Col. Edwin Matthaidess, Commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, said from the unit’s perch at the edge of NATO territory, the unit has been “closely watching” Russia’s war.
The force has been using drills to “replicate exactly what’s going on” in Ukraine, he said. “It keeps us on our toes.”
On Sunday, France, Britain and the United States issued a joint statement rejecting Russian claims that Ukraine seeks to use a dirty bomb, which is a form of radioactive explosive, according to a statement posted on the State Department website.
“We, the Foreign Ministers of France, the United Kingdom and the United States, reiterate our steadfast support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression. We remain committed to continue supporting Ukraine’s efforts to defend its territory for as long as it takes,” the statement said.
“Earlier today, the defense ministers of each of our countries spoke to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu at his request. Our countries made clear that we all reject Russia’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory,” the statement continued.
“The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation. We further reject any pretext for escalation by Russia.”
In translated remarks posted on his website, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday that whatever Russia accuses others of doing is in fact what it is planning, saying Russia has brought “death and degradation” to Ukraine.
“[W]herever Russia comes, it leaves behind mass graves, torture chambers, destroyed cities and villages, mined land, destroyed infrastructure and natural disasters,” he said.
“So when today the Russian Minister of Defense organizes a phone carousel and calls foreign ministers with stories about the so-called ‘dirty’ nuclear bomb, everyone understands everything well. Understands who is the source of everything dirty that can be imagined in this war,” he said.
“If Russia calls and says that Ukraine is allegedly preparing something, it means one thing: Russia has already prepared all this. I believe that now the world should react in the toughest possible way. If Russia has prepared another round of raising stakes and another escalating step, it must see now, preemptively and before its any new ‘dirt’ that the world will not swallow that.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.