Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered 160 Florida National Guard soldiers that are stationed in Ukraine to leave the country as the US is still claiming Russia is preparing for an invasion.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the 160 troops were being “temporarily repositioned” elsewhere in Europe.
Besides the National Guard presence, there is also an undisclosed number of US special operations forces inside Ukraine on a training mission. So far, there have been no announcements about the relocation of the special operators.
US officials have stepped up the rhetoric around a potential Russian invasion and are now claiming it could happen before the end of the Beijing Olympics, which are scheduled to conclude on February 20th. But Russia has repeatedly denied the accusation, and Ukrainian officials continue to downplay the threat.
The US ordered most of the staff of the US embassy in Kyiv to leave Ukraine. According to a report from Ukrainian media, the remaining US diplomats will work temporarily out of the western city of Lviv.
The US also reportedly removed its staff from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that were monitoring the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region. The OSCE said “certain participating states” ordered their staff to leave, but said the monitoring mission will continue.