BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Tensions continue to rise in Ukraine as an estimated 127,000 Russian soldiers are in position near its eastern border.
President Biden and other world leaders have warned the Russian government not to invade, even taking steps toward a possible military response. The Pentagon put 8,500 troops on heightened alert to possibly be deployed to Europe.
The State Department is asking diplomats’ families, non-essential embassy personnel and U.S. citizens to evacuate Ukraine.
With questions of remaining, a military and Russian history expert are weighing in on the impact this could have here at home.
“There’s been a number of opening gambits that have opened in the past couple of weeks then things have just escalated from there,” University of Alabama Professor of Russian History Dr. Margaret Peacock said putting American troops in Ukraine is like Russia putting troops in Mexico.
“They see Ukraine as a critical part of what it means to be Russian or a critical part of the Russian self,” Peacock said. “There’s no simple sending in American troops to solve a problem in Ukraine.”
Any time tensions are high, the 117th Air Refueling Wing in Birmingham is standing by, ready to do what’s needed.
“They’re prepared to respond to the orders of governor and president at moment’s notice,” Retired U.S. Airforce Colonel Scott Grant said.
Grant said units there are ready to aid in a refueling process so military planes can fly for hours overseas without landing.
“The air refueling aspect of that allows us to project that force globally and at a moment’s notice,” Grant said.
According to Peacock, America needs to be careful about what the cost of escalation is. She says it’s a terrible idea for American troops to invade in Ukraine because that could create an even larger global problem.
“It may be possible that delaying the conversation about Ukrainian entrance into NATO is in fact the price of peace,” Peacock said.
In the long run, Grant said we may be focusing on Ukraine, but countries like China and North Korea are watching our response.
“The sovereignty of the U.S. depends in the long game on how we project power and how we project deterrence,” Grant said.
Both Peacock and Grant said the messaging the U.S. projects is tied to global stability. They said if the U.S. starts to cut trade relationships, it could do more harm especially with the supply chain issues we face right now due to the pandemic.