The United States, NATO and Ukraine are looking to the east in alert as Russia continues its military build-up at Ukraine’s border.

On Monday, the Pentagon announced that 8,500 troops were put on “heightened alert” for possible deployment as tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue to rise. With Russia building up its military next to its border with Ukraine, many European nations fear an invasion could occur.

Currently, there has not been any decision as to whether the U.S. will send out troops, but deployment remains one possible option. The New York Post reported that Defense Department press secretary John Kirby stated in a regular briefing, “But specifically this will ensure that the United States and our commitment to the NRF has — is consistent with their readiness for rapid deployment again, if activated.

President Biden also held a video call with NATO and several European leaders  to discuss diplomatic plans and efforts to both deter and defend against Russian invasion on Ukraine. 

ABC News wrote that the meeting spoke of “preparations to impose massive consequences and severe economic costs on Russia for such actions as well as to reinforce security on NATO’s eastern flank.”

The administration hopes the consequences will serve as deterrents to prevent Putin from taking further action toward invading Ukraine. Putin has not commented publicly on the possible ramifications for an incursion into Ukraine.

Russia’s military continues to build up while also completing exercises with thousands of military equipment like tanks, missiles, naval, ships, warplane,and troops. Ukraine also continues to prepare for any possible invasion but still looks at Putin to see what he will do next. 

Even with the threat of invasion, one decision has been clear: no American troops will be sent to Ukraine. Back in early December, President Biden said that they will not send American troops to Ukraine because it is not part of NATO. However, as tensions have increased since, weaponry has been given to Ukraine through neighboring countries.

Though Ukrainian officials are now assuring that the situation is “under control,” and there is no imminent threat of danger, the State Department has still shut down the embassy and encouraged American citizens to find a way home. 

This situation between Russia and Ukraine dates back to 2014, when the president of Ukraine was ousted from power due to being pro-Russia. This event almost sparked a war but was peacefully settled. 

But as The New Yorker reported, “Although the conflict continues today, albeit at a low simmer, its most deadly phase, following an outright Russian incursion, was brought to a temporary end by the Minsk agreements, a set of peace accords reached in 2014 and 2015.”

For the next several years, Russia continued to support a civil war in eastern Ukraine to keep influence. Since 2021, this tension has increased tenfold with Putin ordering more military build-up close to Russia’s border with Ukraine to the tune of nearly 100,000 Russian soldiers at the Ukrainian border.

Some experts debate about whether Russia will invade or not. Ivo Daalder, Former NATO Ambassador, spoke in an interview for CBS News, saying that Putin is motivated by a concern “about the independence of Ukraine.” He clarified, stating that Putin is worried “that a functioning, successful, prosperous democracy in Ukraine poses a direct threat to his rule.” 

Daalder continued, saying that Putin fears that the Russian people would rise up after seeing Ukraine’s prosperity and try to take down his rule of power.

Dick Frakas, a political science professor from DePaul University in Chicago, said in an interview, “I think this is all about signaling …  It’s all about Vladimir Putin feeling like he has been ignored or pushed aside a bit and what’s to reassert his influence in the region.”

The issue remains at the forefront of the Biden administration’s foreign policy as they wait to see how Russia will respond.