The rumors of impending war between Russia and Ukraine and getting more insistent. And as they do, the European Union, NATO, and the U.S. are bracing for what may come:

NATO allies are bolstering the alliance’s eastern flank in response to Russia’s military buildup around Ukraine, as the European Union set out plans for loans and grants for Kyiv worth more than $1.3 billion.

The moves are part of sharpening efforts by the U.S. and its allies to gird for what they believe could be an imminent military invasion of Ukraine, which Russia denies it is planning.

NATO said allies were putting forces on standby and sending ships and jet fighters to its northeastern and southeastern member countries.

That includes the Biden administration potentially deploying U.S. troops to the region:

“We’re going to actually increase troop presence in Poland, in Romania, et cetera, if in fact he moves because we have a sacred obligation in Article 5 to defend those countries. They are part of NATO,” Mr. Biden said last week. Mr. Biden was referring to a provision of NATO’s founding treaty that provides for collective defense.

Among the options currently under consideration is sending several thousand troops before a possible Russian attack, according to U.S. officials. If decided, such forces might not go to Poland, Romania or other eastern flank countries right away but could be positioned initially in another European country, according to some options under discussion.

The military rationale for sending the troops soon would be to get them in position so they could be quickly mobilized in the event of Russian aggression against Ukraine. Biden administration officials, however, are also wary of providing Russia with a pretext to attack Ukraine and don’t want to signal that Washington has given up all hope of a diplomatic solution with Moscow over Ukraine.

Here’s hoping cooler heads prevail, and open conflict is avoided. If not, then the immediate question becomes:  how will the world, and the U.S., respond? And will American soldiers be asked to die in a conflict where our interests are, to be generous, ill-defined?