The Biden administration has approved plans for U.S. troops in Poland to assist in the evacuation of thousands of Americans from Ukraine if Russia invades, senior officials confirmed on Wednesday to The Wall Street Journal.
The White House is rejecting comparisons to the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan six months ago when the Biden administration was still unsure about basic evacuation components hours before the Taliban took control of the country.
Officials told the WSJ that at least two generals who helped lead the evacuation from Afghanistan are assisting with plans for Ukraine.
About 1,700 troops from the 82nd Airborne Corps are being deployed to Poland. Some of those service members will assist in setting up temporary facilities, including checkpoints and tent camps, to prepare for arriving Americans, officials told the outlet.
The troops are not authorized to enter Ukraine, so they will not be able to directly evacuate roughly 30,000 Americans there.
Ukraine is unlikely to fall like Afghanistan in the event of a Russian incursion, sources told the WSJ. Russia is expected to seize parts of Ukraine over time, Biden officials say.
However, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told members of Congress last week that Kyiv could fall within 72 hours if Russia launches a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Fox News reported.
Officials are reportedly concerned that evacuating Americans before Russia invades would signal that an incursion is inevitable.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday denied the comparison to the Afghan evacuation. "The situation in Afghanistan was unique for many reasons, including that it was the end of a 20-year war," she said. "We were bringing a war to an end; we were not trying to prevent a war, as we are certainly in this case."