Blockade by US Military Prevents Access of Troops in Europe

Blockade by US Military Prevents Access of Troops in Europe

Pentagon and U.S. military reporters are protesting what they claim is a denial of access to the approximately 3,000 troops stationed in Europe amid rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Pentagon reporters have been denied the chance to interview or embed with the troops, who are being sent to Poland, Romania and Germany as a gesture of reassurance for NATO allies amid a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, which isn't part of NATO. These blanket restrictions are rare even in war zones, the journalists say.

About 100,000 Russian troops are stationed on the Ukrainian border, some for joint military exercises in Belarus, but Russia insists no plans exist to invade Ukraine. The president has ordered more U.S. troops to go to Poland, Romania, and Germany. Romania borders Ukraine and Russia, and U.S. troops aren't going to Ukraine.

According to the Pentagon Press Association, almost 100 journalists who cover the Department of Defense have been denied access to newly deployed rank-and-file soldiers in Europe. Lloyd Austin and Jake Sullivan were addressed in a letter to Biden's administration by the group on Wednesday.

This denial of access to the media is "contrary to the basic principle of press freedom," and the letter asks the Biden administration to reverse its decision.

According to the letter, it's a disservice to the American public whose troops are deploying abroad, and it runs counter to Biden's transparency promises. In a democratic society, the public deserves independent media coverage of their sons and daughters in uniform, and this is not feasible without first-hand, on-the-ground reporting of troop activities in Europe."

The association's president is Associated Press national security writer Robert Burns.

The AP spokeswoman said in a statement, "Restricting access to U.S. troops on the ground is a burden to the public, who rely on independent journalists to report what is happening."

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Wednesday that the limitations on coverage are part of a broader strategy to try to negotiate a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis on the "geopolitical stage."

We take every decision to provide media access to our troops seriously, regardless of whether it is in an operational or training setting. "We're just not there where we can provide that kind of access right now."

It's a sensitive diplomatic moment as the U.S. and its partner attempt to thwart a Russian invasion.

He asserted that diplomacy still has time and space. We're still convinced it's possible to operate inside Mr. Putin's headspace. As a result, we still believe that he has not made a final decision regarding the invasion of Ukraine.