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U.S. Army paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade battalion began arriving in Latvia this week, leaving Aviano Air Base in northern Italy as part of the U.S. response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a report.
Latvia is located along the Baltic Sea, with Russia to its east, Belarus to its south and then Ukraine located just below Belarus. The Latvian capital of Riva is about 665 miles northwest of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
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Once in Latvia, after an 1,100-mile journey from Italy, the U.S. forces were expected to link up with tiny Latvia’s lone army brigade, Stars and Stripes reported.
Hundreds of troops were expected to be in place by Thursday, Army spokesman Maj. Cain Claxton told the news outlet.
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Claxton called the mission “an opportunity to get out the door and work in another country on behalf of U.S. security interests,” Stars and Stripes reported. He did not have specific details on what the U.S. troops would be doing in Latvia, the report said.
The U.S. brigade is “well-prepared” to deploy wherever needed “at a moment’s notice,” he added.
Other military moves
In other U.S. military moves, 20 AH-64 helicopters from Germany were heading eastward to unspecified NATO locations, Pentagon officials said Wednesday, according to the report, while 12 of the same helicopters were heading from Greece to Poland.
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In addition, six F-35 fighter jets from Utah that had been sent to Germany were deployed Thursday to air bases in Estonia, Lithuania and Romania to aid NATO’s air policing operations along the alliance’s eastern borders, U.S. Air Force officials in Europe said, Stars and Stripes reported.