U.S. intelligence agencies warn of another effort by Russia to create pretext for an invasion.

Russia Could Invade Ukraine at Any Time, U.S. Says
Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, warned that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia could launch a major assault on Ukraine before the end of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, but said that Mr. Putin had not reached a final decision yet.
“We are in the window when an invasion could begin at any time should Vladimir Putin decide to order it. I will not comment on the details of our intelligence information, but I do want to be clear: It could begin during the Olympics. We encourage all American citizens who remain in Ukraine to depart immediately. We want to be crystal clear on this point. Any American in Ukraine should leave as soon as possible and in any event, in the next 24 to 48 hours. We obviously cannot predict the future. We don’t know exactly what is going to happen, but the risk is now high enough and the threat is now immediate enough that this is what prudence demands. If you stay, you are assuming risk with no guarantee that there will be any other opportunity to leave, and there — no prospect of a U.S. military evacuation in the event of a Russian invasion.” Reporter: “Does the United States believe that the president — pardon me — that President Putin has made a decision because PBS NewsHour just reported a little bit ago that the United States does believe that Putin has made a decision, and has also communicated that decision to the Russian military. Is that accurate?” “The report that you just referenced, which I have not seen yet, it does not accurately capture what the U.S. government’s view is today. Our view is that we do not believe he has made any kind of final decision or we don’t know that he has made any final decision, and we have not communicated that to anybody.”

Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, warned that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia could launch a major assault on Ukraine before the end of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, but said that Mr. Putin had not reached a final decision yet.
President Biden warned Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Saturday that invading Ukraine would result in “swift and severe” costs to Russia, diminish his country’s standing and cause “widespread human suffering,” as Western officials made another diplomatic push to dissuade Mr. Putin from pressing forward with an attack.

It remained unclear if Mr. Putin would invade, according to senior administration officials. One senior national security official, who briefed reporters shortly after the call took place, said that there was “no fundamental change in the dynamic that has unfolded now for several weeks,” an acknowledgment that Mr. Putin has continued to build up a military presence that has effectively surrounded Ukraine.

After the one-hour call, a senior administration official said that the situation remained as urgent as it was on Friday, when Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, warned Americans to leave the country in the coming days.

The official pointed out that the Russians were continuing their military buildup even as Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin prepared to speak, underscoring concern among U.S. officials that Mr. Putin was capable of initiating a major military incursion.

The officials discussed the call on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

A foreign policy aide to Mr. Putin, Yuri Ushakov, described the call with Mr. Biden as “businesslike” but overshadowed by American “hysteria” over a possibly imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine. A day earlier, the Biden administration had warned that Mr. Putin could launch an attack at any moment.

In Saturday’s call, Mr. Biden made several proposals to Mr. Putin to address Russia’s security concerns in Eastern Europe that largely mirrored the ones that were made in writing by the United States last month, Mr. Ushakov said. He said the Kremlin would consider them as it prepares to respond soon to the American proposals, and repeated Mr. Putin’s recent statements that those proposals had ignored Russia’s key demands.

Those demands include a promise that Ukraine never be admitted into NATO.

White House officials said that Mr. Biden discussed a range of diplomatic options, but that it was unclear if Mr. Putin was persuaded to take that route.

The two leaders spoke just hours after the State Department ordered all but a “core team” of its diplomats and employees to leave the American Embassy in Kyiv over fears that Moscow would soon mount a major assault.

Reflecting the urgent concern in Washington over Russia’s growing military buildup surrounding its smaller neighbor, the Pentagon said it would temporarily pull 160 American military trainers out of the country, where they had been working with Ukrainian troops near the Polish border.

Even as Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin spoke by telephone — and after calls earlier Saturday between the top U.S. and Russian diplomats and between the countries’ defense secretaries — the path to a diplomatic resolution to the standoff appeared to be narrowing.

U.S. intelligence officials had thought Mr. Putin was prepared to wait until the end of the Winter Olympics in Beijing before possibly ordering an offensive, to avoid antagonizing President Xi Jinping of China, a critical ally. But in recent days, they say, the timeline began moving up, an acceleration that Biden administration officials began publicly acknowledging on Friday.

“We continue to see signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border,” Mr. Sullivan told reporters on Friday, adding that an invasion could begin “during the Olympics,” which are scheduled to end on
The United States has picked up intelligence that Russia is discussing next Wednesday as the target date for the start of any military action, officials said, acknowledging the possibility that mentioning a particular date could be part of a Russian disinformation effort.

The Ukrainian government urged calm, with President Volodymyr Zelensky saying that he had not seen intelligence indicating an imminent Russian attack, and that “too much information” about a possible offensive was sowing unnecessary fear.

The United States has ruled out sending troops to defend Ukraine, but it has increased deployments to NATO member countries in Eastern Europe.

The White House is eager to avoid a repeat of the chaotic evacuation of the U.S. Embassy staff from Kabul last August as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban. The United States and countries including Britain, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Latvia and the Netherlands have issued increasingly urgent calls for their citizens to leave Ukraine.

A State Department official emphasized on Saturday that the U.S. military would not be evacuating American citizens from Ukraine in the way troops did in Afghanistan.

On Saturday, KLM, the main Dutch airline, announced that it would stop flying to Ukraine, citing the security situation.

Russia has accused Western countries of spreading misinformation about its intentions. On Saturday, its Foreign Ministry said it was pulling some of its diplomatic personnel out of Ukraine because it was “drawing the conclusion that our American and British colleagues seem to know about certain military actions.”
Kramer, Lara Jakes and Katie

A drawdown of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv begins.

The State Department on Saturday ordered all but a “core team” of its diplomats and employees to leave the American Embassy in Kyiv over fears that Moscow would soon mount a major assault.

A senior State Department official said that the drawdown at the embassy, one of America’s largest in Europe, reflected the urgent need for American citizens to leave Ukraine immediately, because Washington has a limited ability to help them if the country becomes a “war zone.”

Several thousand Americans are believed to be in Ukraine, and the official told reporters that while diplomatic efforts to prevent war from breaking out were continuing, it appeared increasingly likely that the situation was headed toward some kind of active conflict. Russia’s large-scale military buildup surrounding Ukraine has prompted increasingly dire warnings from the Biden administration that Europe faces its gravest security crisis since the end of the Cold War.

The State Department said that all nonemergency U.S. employees would depart the embassy in Kyiv, leaving only “a bare minimum” of American diplomats and Ukrainian staff members. Consular services at the embassy will be suspended starting on Sunday, the department said.

A small consular presence in Lviv, Ukraine, will be able to handle emergencies for U.S. citizens but will not be able to provide passport, visa or routine consular services, the State Department said.

Until the crisis began, the embassy in Kyiv, a sprawl of office buildings ringed by a perimeter fence in a leafy residential district, was the third largest U.S. diplomatic mission in Europe, including 181 government employees from the State Department and more than a dozen agencies, and more than 560 Ukrainian employees.

U.S. officials including President Biden have said in recent days that the final elements were falling into place of a potential Russian invasion force mustered near Ukraine’s borders.

“Despite a prudent reduction in our diplomatic staff, our core embassy team will remain in Ukraine with our many dedicated Ukrainian colleagues,” the embassy said in a statement on Saturday.

A senior State Department official would not estimate how many American diplomats would remain in Ukraine. Most of the rest of the embassy’s diplomats would return to the United States and continue their work on Ukraine issues from there.

Asked whether the diplomats in Kyiv were shredding documents or other classified and sensitive materials to prevent them from being seized by Russians should the embassy be overrun in a worst-case scenario, the official said that “appropriate, prudent steps” were being taken to “reduce those holdings” and certain equipment.

The Pentagon is pulling 160 U.S. military trainers out of Ukraine.

Ukrainian soldiers and American National Guard soldiers from Florida during training last week near Yavoriv, Ukraine.
The Pentagon is pulling a contingent of about 160 U.S. military trainers out of Ukraine, officials said on Saturday, reflecting growing concern in Washington that a Russian invasion of the Eastern European nation is imminent.

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III has ordered a “temporary” repositioning of the trainers, who are members of the Florida Army National Guard and have been operating out of a Ukrainian base near the Polish border, to “elsewhere in Europe,” the Pentagon spokesman, John F. Kirby, said in a statement.

The statement made no mention of about 80 Army Special Forces personnel, including Green Beret trainers, who will remain in Ukraine at least for now, military officials said. Those troops are also based at the training site near the Polish border, from which they could be moved quickly in the coming days, officials said.

Pentagon officials, mindful of the disastrous impact that the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan had on the morale of Afghan security forces last summer, had wanted the trainers to stay as long as possible to support their Ukrainian partners.

“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,” Mr. Kirby said.

The 160 National Guard members have been deployed to Ukraine since late November, advising and mentoring Ukrainian troops as part of a multinational force.

A contingent of U.S. Marines will remain stationed at the American Embassy in Kyiv, even as the State Department ordered all but a “core team” of diplomats and employees to leave the country.

Russian ships set off for major drills in the Black Sea.

A Russian Navy landing vessel en route to the Black Sea this week.
More than 30 Russian Navy ships have set sail in the Black Sea for military exercises, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday, in effect completing the encirclement of Ukraine by hostile forces from all sides but the west.

The Russian ships — including frigates, missile boats and submarine chasers from the navy’s Black Sea Fleet — departed from harbors in the port cities of Sevastopol and Novorossiysk, the statement said. They will join other Russian vessels, including amphibious landing craft, that have arrived in the waters south of Ukraine over the past few weeks, many from distant ports used by other divisions of the Russian Navy in the Arctic Ocean and Baltic Sea.

The exercises have added to fears that Russia and Russian-backed forces have surrounded Ukraine in preparation for a possible large-scale attack. The ministry said the drills would include “rocket and artillery fire” and “aerial bombardment on sea, land and air targets.”

On Friday, Ukraine’s military warned that Russian-backed separatists in the country’s east were conducting military exercises, and a day earlier Russia began joint drills with forces in Belarus, near Ukraine’s northern frontier, involving what NATO estimates are tens of thousands of troops.

The statement on Saturday said that more than 140 ships would take part in the exercises, along with over 60 aircraft and about 10,000 marines.

Ukraine’s navy has only a fraction of the manpower. Its fleet — nearly all of which Russia seized in 2014 when it annexed of Crimea and Sevastopol, which had served as its main base — has suffered from years of neglect.

Over the past week, Russia has been conducting a flurry of drills around Ukraine. On the eastern flank, Russian army formations took part in drills with the use of helicopters and missile systems.

The drills in Belarus, which are scheduled to end on Feb. 20, began on Thursday with troops and an extensive array of equipment positioned near the Ukrainian border, which is about 50 miles from Kyiv.

On Friday, combat medics honed their skills in evacuating the wounded. At training ranges, together with their Belarusian counterparts, Russian forces took part in a large-scale mock tank battle, according to a video published by the defense ministry.

In Ukraine’s southwest on the border with Moldova, where Russia maintains a peacekeeping contingent in the breakaway region of Transnistria, Russian snipers took part in a shooting competition and military engineers conducted a training session.

The live-fire exercises to Ukraine’s south, in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, threaten to blockade the Ukrainian ports of Odessa, Mykolaiv and Kherson. The Russian naval force also poses a threat to attack Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, Western and Ukrainian officials have said.

The government in Kyiv said on Friday that it had asked the United Nations Security Council to protest the blockade of its ports.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in Kharkiv on Friday.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on Saturday continued to play down American warnings of an imminent Russian invasion, urging calm and saying he had not seen intelligence showing that Moscow was poised to attack.

He told reporters that there was “too much information in the information space” about a possible full-scale war with Russia, and ridiculed news media reports that Russia could be planning to invade on Wednesday.

“We understand all the risks — we understand that these risks exist,” Mr. Zelensky said. But, he said, “if you or any person has additional information regarding a 100-percent-certain invasion, beginning on the 16th, by the Russian Federation into Ukraine, please give us this information.”

The Ukrainian leader has for weeks voiced frustration with the American messaging in the crisis, criticizing the Biden administration for sowing panic in Kyiv and spooking foreign investors.

American officials have responded that they are reacting to intelligence they are receiving, and that they hope that calling out President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia publicly on any possible invasion plans could help deter him from taking action.

The combination of recent Russian troop movements and the information about a possible invasion date helped set off a flurry of diplomatic activity and public warnings by NATO allies on Friday.

On Saturday, a senior State Department official said he believed that Ukraine’s leadership understood why the United States was ordering its diplomats out and urging other Americans to leave, but noted that some Ukrainian leaders “don’t necessarily agree” with assessments on “the extent to which potential conflict is imminent.”

With a wave of disclosures, the U.S. tries to beat a master of information warfare at his own game.

Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, at the White House on Friday.
WASHINGTON — In recent weeks, the Biden administration has detailed the movement of Russian special operation forces to Ukraine’s borders, exposed a Russian plan to create a video of a faked atrocity as a pretext for an invasion, outlined Moscow’s war plans, warned that an invasion would result in possibly thousands of deaths and hinted that Russian officers had doubts about President Vladimir V. Putin.

Then, on Friday, Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, told reporters at the White House that the United States was seeing signs of Russian escalation and that there was a “credible prospect” of immediate military action.

All told, the extraordinary series of disclosures — unfolding almost as quickly as information is collected and assessed — has amounted to one of the most aggressive releases of intelligence by the United States since the Cuban missile crisis, current and former officials say.

The hope is that disclosing Mr. Putin’s plans will disrupt them, perhaps delaying an invasion and buying more time for diplomacy, or even giving Mr. Putin a chance to reconsider the political, economic and human costs of an invasion.

At the same time, Biden administration officials said they had a narrower and more realistic goal: They want to make it more difficult for Mr. Putin to justify an invasion with lies, undercutting his standing on the global stage and building support for a tougher response.

Intelligence agencies, prodded by the White House, have declassified information, which in turn has been briefed to Congress, shared with reporters and discussed by Pentagon and State Department spokesmen.

But the disclosures are complicated by history, particularly the Bush administration’s release of flawed and misinterpreted intelligence that was used to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

But this situation, American officials say, is very different. Washington’s claims about Russia’s troop buildup have been confirmed by commercial satellite imagery of a quality previously unavailable. The details of Moscow’s secret disinformation plots are in line with the Kremlin’s propaganda campaigns that play out on social media platforms and have been tracked by independent researchers.

Most important, the officials said, there is a fundamental distinction between Iraq in 2003 and Ukraine in 2022. “In Iraq, intelligence was used and deployed from this very podium to start a war,” Mr. Sullivan said on Friday. “We are trying to stop a war.”

A Russian military vehicle taking part in drills in Russia’s Rostov region this month.
Russia’s foreign ministry has dismissed American talk of war as propaganda and “hysteria,” and depicted it as cover for an attack being prepared by Ukrainian forces against Russian-backed separatists in the country’s east.

Although Ukraine denies having any such plans, Russia said on Saturday that it was pulling some of its diplomatic personnel out of Ukraine, characterizing it as a response to similar moves by Western countries.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it had decided to reduce the staffing of its missions in Ukraine, which include an embassy in Kyiv and consulates in Lviv, Odessa and Kharkiv.

“We are drawing the conclusion that our American and British colleagues seem to know about certain military actions being prepared in Ukraine,” Maria V. Zakharova, the foreign ministry’s spokeswoman, said in a statement. “Our embassy and consulates will continue to exercise their main functions.”

Russia’s moves are part of an ongoing information war between Moscow and the West, with each side accusing the other of inciting tensions.

“A coordinated information attack is being conducted against Moscow,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday in a statement that included a list of previous Western warnings of a possible imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine.

It said that messaging was “aimed at undermining and discrediting Russia’s fair demands for security guarantees, as well as at justifying Western geopolitical aspirations and military absorption of Ukraine’s territory.”

Blinken tells Russian counterpart that a diplomatic path remains open, but Moscow must ‘de-escalate’ first.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken urged his Russian counterpart on Saturday to reduce Moscow’s military buildup surrounding Ukraine, warning that an attack “would result in a resolute, massive and united” response from the United States and Western allies, the State Department said.

In a phone call with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, Mr. Blinken said that “a diplomatic path to resolving the crisis remained open, but it would require Moscow to de-escalate and engage in good-faith discussions,” said Ned Price, the State Department spokesman.

In its own statement about the phone call, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that Mr. Lavrov had repeated Moscow’s contention that American warnings of a looming Russian invasion were meant to encourage Ukraine to attack Russian-backed separatists in the country’s east. Ukraine says it has no plans to mount such an offensive.

“The propaganda campaign deployed by the United States and its allies about ‘Russian aggression’ against Ukraine is pursuing provocative goals,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Mr. Lavrov also told Mr. Blinken that Russia was still evaluating the written responses to Russia’s demands for “security guarantees” in Eastern Europe that were submitted by the United States and NATO last month. But he repeated President Vladimir V. Putin’s recent assertion that those written responses had “ignored” Russia’s key demands, which called for a legally binding pledge that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO.

The Biden administration has ruled out sending troops to Ukraine in the event of an invasion, but has worked with European allies to assemble a punishing set of sanctions against Russia should Mr. Putin mount a major attack.

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U.S. intelligence agencies warn of another effort by Russia to create pretext for an invasion.

U.S. intelligence said that details of a possible Russian false-flag operation, including its timing, were unclear.
American intelligence agencies have warned the Biden administration of a new Russian operation meant to create a false pretext for the invasion of Ukraine, according to people briefed on the material.

This month, senior administration officials said Russia planned to create a fake video showing an attack by Ukrainians on Russian territory or Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine.

In recent days, officials said new intelligence pointed to another so-called false-flag operation, but the details of an attack, including its timing, were unclear.

Officials and others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified and sensitive information.

At a White House briefing on Friday, Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, said the United States was publicly calling out Russian plans to create a false pretext so that the world would know that Russia had no legitimate cause to enter Ukrainian territory.

“We are firmly convinced that the Russians, should they decide to move forward with invasion, are looking hard at the creation of a pretext, a false-flag operation, something that they generate and try to blame on the Ukrainians as a trigger for military action,” Mr. Sullivan said.

In recent weeks, American intelligence agencies have reported learning about a string of potential Russian operations intended to create an excuse for an attack on Ukraine. The Biden administration has declassified details of some of them, including a plot to send saboteurs into Ukraine and the plan to create an elaborate video of a faked atrocity. In each case, Russian operatives would make it look as if supporters of the Ukrainian government were attacking Russian-speaking people.

The disclosures by the Biden administration have been greeted skeptically in some quarters, both in the United States and abroad. The American government says it has provided little in the way of evidence to protect the people who provided the information or the means by which intelligence agencies discovered it.

An intelligence official acknowledged there were diminishing returns in exposing the details of further plots. Other officials said that by now, the international community should be well primed to dismiss or discount any claims by Russia that Ukraine has provoked it.

The news about an additional Russian false-flag operation was earlier reported by The Washington Post.

Although the United States has hid details of the plots it says it has uncovered, the allegations outlined by the Biden administration have tracked with Russian propaganda messages. Since November, Russian government-controlled media and conspiracy websites with ties to Moscow’s intelligence services have stepped up a disinformation campaign that Ukraine is attacking Russian speakers in separatist-controlled areas, frequently leveling accusations of genocide.

— Julian E. Barnes

Macron cautions Putin that escalation is ‘incompatible’ with dialogue.

A Ukrainian soldier in the eastern part of the country on Friday. In a telephone call Saturday that took up where a five-hour meeting earlier in the week left off, President Emmanuel Macron of France told President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia that “a sincere dialogue was incompatible with escalation,” a French presidential statement said.

Their conversation came as the United States stressed the imminence of a possible Russian invasion into Ukraine, ordering all but a “core team” of diplomats and employees to leave the American Embassy in the capital, Kyiv.

France has not followed suit, in line with its less alarmist view of the large Russian troop buildup on several Ukrainian borders. It has, however, advised French citizens not to travel to Ukraine. There are about 1,000 French citizens in the Eastern European country, some with double nationality.

Asked about the grave U.S. assessment of the situation, a senior French official declined to comment.

After his marathon meeting in Moscow on Monday, Mr. Macron said he had secured Mr. Putin’s agreement to avoid escalating its threat to Ukraine. However, the Kremlin said that no agreement had been made, because, in Russia’s telling, it had no plans to escalate in the first place. The French president also believes he has succeeded in putting off the possibility of war, at least for some weeks, as more diplomatic efforts unfold.

The statement from the French presidential office on Saturday said the two leaders had discussed the Minsk accords of 2015, an inoperative agreement that was supposed to resolve the situation in two breakaway eastern Ukrainian provinces controlled by Moscow-backed proxies, and “had pursued their discussion on the conditions for security and stability in Europe.”

It continued, “They both expressed a desire to pursue the dialogue on these two points.”

For Mr. Macron, creating the “conditions for security and stability in Europe” involves reflection on the failure to rethink Europe’s collective security after the end of the Cold War. Mr. Putin agrees on this need, even if his desired outcome — closing the door to potential NATO membership for Ukraine — is unacceptable to Mr. Macron. In their shared conviction on reshaping the European security framework, they have found a basis for long discussion.

“The question is not NATO, but how do we create an area of security?” Mr. Macron told reporters on his flight back from Moscow. “How do we live in peace in this region?”

While posing such broad questions, Mr. Macron has also been insistent on the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine and, in the words of the senior official, has repeatedly told the government of President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv that “nothing in Ukraine will be decided without the Ukrainians.”

Mr. Macron was due to talk later Saturday with President Biden, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany and Mr. Zelensky, in what was described as a concerted effort to prevent a Russian invasion of Ukraine and ensure a peaceful resolution.

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China cautions its citizens in Ukraine but doesn’t mention war.

In front of the Independence Monument in Kyiv on Friday. China has warned its citizens in Ukraine to remain aware of “local developments” in the country. China has joined the list of countries warning its citizens in Ukraine. But Beijing, which has offered firm support to Russia’s position in the crisis, has avoided any clear mention of the risk of invasion or war.

Instead, China’s embassy in Ukraine warned Chinese citizens there to take extra precautions against the coronavirus and to “pay close attention to local developments,” the Chinese news media reported on Saturday.

“Recently, pandemic trends in Ukraine have been increasingly grim,” the embassy notice said, adding that there had been growing cases of Chinese people becoming infected with the coronavirus.

“At the same time,” it said, “the tensions between Ukraine and Russia have attracted concern from multiple parties, and mutually inconsistent speculation has arisen.”

The embassy notice, dated Friday, did not urge Chinese citizens to leave. It said that they should monitor developments and “enhance protective awareness.”

As Russia faces off against Western nations over Ukraine, it has edged closer to China, a relationship that increasingly poses a challenge to American dominance on the world stage.

Last week, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia visited Beijing for the start of the Winter Olympics, where he and the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, issued a lengthy statement proclaiming that the friendship between their nations had “no limits.”

— Chris Buckley
The Pentagon is sending 3,000 more troops to Poland.

The Pentagon on Friday ordered 3,000 additional troops to Poland, bringing to 5,000 the total number of reinforcements sent to Europe in the past two weeks.

The purpose of the troops, nearly all from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., will be to reassure NATO allies that while the United States has no intention of sending troops into Ukraine, where President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has been threatening an invasion, President Biden would protect America’s NATO allies from any Russian aggression.

Poland borders Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, a close ally of Russia.

The troop deployment announced on Friday will depart Fort Bragg over the next couple of days and is expected to be in place by early next week, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The troops are commanded by Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue, the head of the 82nd Airborne, who was also the ground commander for the evacuation at Kabul International Airport.