(PresidentialHill.com)- President Joe Biden has stuck to his word that the United States would not send ground troops to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia.
Earlier this week, though, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the opposite could indeed happen, though for a slightly different reason.
On Monday, General Mark Milley said planning to send troops to Ukraine to guard America’s recently re-opened Embassy in the capital of Kyiv are “underway at a relatively low level.”
Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal published a report saying high-ranking Biden administration officials were considering sending special military forces to the Ukrainian capital to defend the U.S. Embassy against a possible attack.
The problem, of course, is making sure that Russia doesn’t see such a move as military aggression that could lead to an escalation of fighting in the country.
Milley referred to the WSJ report when he spoke to reporters over at the Pentagon this week, saying:
“Some of the things that may have been out there in the media, those are planning efforts that are underway at a relatively low level.”
He added, though, that those plans “have not yet made it to [Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin] or myself for that matter, for refinement of courses of action and what’s needed.”
Even if top military officials decided that it was a good idea to send troops into Ukraine to defend the U.S. embassy, Biden would still have to sign off on the move. Milley added:
“We’re a ways away from anything like that. We’re still developing courses of action, and none of that has been presented yet to the secretary.”
Just last week, America re-opened the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv. The embassy was closed just ahead of Russia invading Ukraine on February 24.
At present, security for the U.S. Embassy is provided through the Diplomatic Security Service within the State Department.
The question is whether the president would agree to send military troops into Ukraine to defend the embassy, if his top defense officials were to recommend it. Biden has consistently said he wouldn’t send American troops into the country to help them defend themselves against Russia, and even sending troops to defend the embassy would represent a change from that promise.
American troops are stationed in countries that surround Ukraine, though, such as Romania and Poland — both member countries of NATO.
While speaking with reporters earlier this week, Milley added that there are roughly 102,000 U.S. troops who are currently based over in Europe. That represents a 30% increase since Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine three months ago.
“Last fall, the United States military had about 78,000 in [U.S. European Command] — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Space Force. In a few short months, we bolstered that by over 30%.”
It seems unlikely that Biden would take the chance that sending troops into Ukraine would anger Russian President Vladimir Putin — even if those troops are only to protect the American embassy.
But, then again, things have been escalating quite quickly and don’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.