White House Spokesperson Jen Psaki said that President Joe Biden does not intend to unilaterally send U.S. service members to Ukraine to counter Russia amid a potential conflict between Moscow and Kyiv.

“Just to be clear, there is no intention or interest or desire by the president to send troops to Ukraine,” Reuters cited Psaki saying at a press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 25.

“NATO is a forum to support our eastern flank partners and countries, and that’s what the focus has been on,” she added.

The White House’s comments come after the Pentagon put some 8,500 troops on alert to reassure NATO allies in the face of a Russian military buildup near its border with Ukraine.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Monday that the U.S. troops were being notified of ready-to-deploy orders so they could fill in the ranks of a NATO rapid response force should the alliance call them up for duty.

“Secretary Austin has placed a range of units in the United States on a heightened preparedness to deploy, which increases our readiness to provide forces if NATO should activate the NATO National Response Force,” Kirby said.

Kirby reiterated that the United States would defend the interests of its allies from the Russian threat if necessary. However, a decision has not yet been made to send troops to the area of potential conflict.

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