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Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on March 29 that the Marines were in Norway for military exercises and are part of Marine Air Control Group 28 based in Cherry Hill, North Carolina.
An unspecified number of C-130 Hercules aircraft and around 10 F-18 Hornets stationed in the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina, will also head toward Eastern Europe.
The announcement came a day after the Pentagon declared it was deploying six U.S. Navy EA-18G Growler aircraft from the VAQ-134 squadron based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, to Germany.
The purpose of the deployment is to “bolster readiness,” boost the “collective defense posture” of NATO, and “improve air integration capabilities with America’s allies,” Kirby said.
Growlers specialize in flying electronic warfare missions and help to significantly suppress enemy air defense operations by jamming sensors to confuse enemy radars. The Growler deployment is accompanied by around 240 aircraft maintainers, aircrew, and pilots.
“They are not being deployed to be used against Russian forces in Ukraine. They are being deployed completely in keeping with our efforts to bolster NATO’s deterrence and defense capabilities along that eastern flank. The deployment is not in response to a perceived threat or incident,” Kirby said in a statement on March 28.
The Pentagon on Tuesday clarified President Joe Biden’s statement from the previous day in which he claimed that American troops were training Ukrainian forces in Poland. Kirby pointed out that U.S. troops were only “liaising” with the Ukrainian military, and did not provide further details regarding troop interactions.
Russia has promised to scale down military operations in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and the city of Chernihiv. But Kirby dismissed the claim, insisting that the Russians are only “repositioning” and not really leaving.
“Has there been some movement by some Russian units away from Kyiv in the last day or so? Yeah. We think so. Small numbers,” Kirby said during a March 29 press briefing.
“But we believe that this is a repositioning, not a real withdrawal, and that we all should be prepared to watch for a major offensive against other areas of Ukraine,” Kirby said, adding that a real, believable commitment would involve the full withdrawal of the Russian military from Ukraine.
The Russian attack on Chernihiv actually intensified instead of softening, in spite of Moscow’s assurances, according to the city’s mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko.
The renewed attacks are “yet another confirmation” that Russia “always lies,” the mayor said in an interview with CNN. Over 100,000 people are trapped in the city, with just enough food and medical supplies to last one more week at most.
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