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Pentagon Chief: US to Relocate Some Troops to Bulgaria for Drills, Better Interoperability

© AP Photo / CHRISTOF STACHEUS soldiers at the exercise area in Grafenwoehr, Germany
US soldiers at the exercise area in Grafenwoehr, Germany - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.02.2022
NATO countries have been moving their troops towards the eastern boundaries of the bloc under the pretext of responding to alleged Russian plans to invade Ukraine. Moscow has repeatedly rejected these unsubstantiated claims and demanded that the alliance move its forces back to its 1997 lines.
US Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin has announced that Washington will be moving some of its troops from Germany to Bulgaria for the sake of joint training opportunities and better interoperability.
"I'd also like to add my appreciation to Bulgaria, who just today agreed to host the US Army Stryker company for joint training opportunities. These troops will be departing Germany in the coming days and they will help ensure our readiness and our interoperability with Bulgaria as our NATO ally", Austin said.
The US defence secretary made the announcement after a round of claims that Russia was "certainly" not preparing to withdraw its troops from Ukraine's border and on the contrary – was bringing them "right up to NATO's doorstep". Austin made no mention of NATO gradually moving the said "doorstep" closer to Russia over the years and even promising membership to Ukraine – Russia's neighbour – back in 2008.
Moscow earlier announced that it was redeploying some of its troops from the southern border, near Ukraine, to their bases of permanent deployment following the end of scheduled war games. Both the Pentagon and NATO claimed that their observations showed no sign of a reduction of deployed troops near the Ukrainian border. The Kremlin responded by condemning NATO's "issues with the capability to correctly assess situations".

West's 'Hysteria' Around Alleged Invasion of Ukraine

NATO countries, the US included, began to accuse Russia of plotting an "invasion" of Ukraine in November 2021 and have not stopped since despite Moscow repeatedly rejecting these unsubstantiated allegations. The Kremlin proposed the US and NATO to launch a dialogue on security and stability, forwarding its proposals in December.
Among them were two key points: Ukraine's non-accession to NATO and withdrawal of the alliance's forces to their 1997 lines. However, the alliance members have turned down these offers, suggesting focusing instead on smaller issues – such as arms control and limitations on military drills in Europe.
While the Kremlin agreed to initiate the security dialogue on these matters, it stressed that the issue of Ukraine's membership in NATO is still not off the table for Russia.
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