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President Joe Biden was considering deploying several thousand US troops to Ukraine Sunday, a report said, as the State Department ordered the families of all American Embassy personnel to leave the country amid heightened fears of a Russian invasion.
Biden mulled several military options from Pentagon officials at Camp David Sunday as the administration moved away from a non-provocational strategy, Fox News reported.
The options included sending up to 5,000 troops to Eastern Europe, and increasing the military presence by tenfold if Russian President Vladimir Putin acted on his escalating threats to invade eastern Ukraine, as diplomatic efforts between Washington and Moscow stalled, according to the network.
Meanwhile, State Department officials stressed the Kyiv embassy would remain open, but family members of staffers must leave the country, and non-essential staff could also return to the US at their own expense.
The move came amid rising tensions about Russia’s military buildup on the Ukraine border that were not eased during talks Friday between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva.
“The security conditions, particularly along Ukraine’s borders, in Russia-occupied Crimea, and in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine, are unpredictable and can deteriorate with little notice. Demonstrations, which have turned violent at times, regularly occur throughout Ukraine, including in Kyiv,” the state department said in a statement.
The Russian Foreign Ministry had accused NATO countries of escalating tensions around Ukraine with disinformation.