Poland officially welcomes NATO deployment of US troops

January 14, 2017 1:46 pm
The Polish government has officially welcomed thousands of US soldiers who have recently arrived in the country as part of a deployment.
The troops, along with a large amount of equipment, are part of a planned NATO operation aimed at bolstering its Eastern European allies. The deployment is the largest movement of an armed US brigade to since the conclusion of the Cold War. Moscow has labeled the move as “truly aggressive” and says the soldiers’ presence is a direct threat to Russia.

A US army soldier reacts after the official welcoming ceremony for US troops deployed to  as part of NATO build-up in Eastern Europe in Zagan, , January 14, 2017.   

“It is a great day when we can welcome American soldiers, representatives of the best, strongest, greatest world’s army on Polish soil, here in Zagan,” said Poland’s Prime Minister Beata Szydlo during the official welcoming ceremony held on Saturday.
“We are happy that you are today with us. Welcome in Poland” she added.

A Polish army soldier looks on after the official welcoming ceremony for US troops deployed to Poland as part of NATO build-up in Eastern Europe in Zagan, Poland, January 14, 2017. 

The troops are scheduled to spread out across seven countries from Estonia to Bulgaria for military drills. Their headquarters will be established in Germany.
“We waited for decades, sometimes feeling we had been left alone, sometimes almost losing hope, sometimes feeling that we were the only one who protected civilization from aggression that came from the east,” said Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz.

US and Polish army soldiers pose for a picture after the official welcoming ceremony for US troops deployed to Poland as part of NATO build-up in Eastern Europe in Zagan, Poland, January 14, 2017.

The US and its allies have been at odds with Moscow since the strategic Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, controlled by Ukraine, joined Russia following a referendum in March 2014.
Western countries have been fearful of a repeat of that scenario in other countries, and have sought to step up their military presence in Eastern Europe.  
The European Union, the US and some other Western countries have also imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia. 

US and Polish army soldiers attend an official welcoming ceremony for US troops deployed to Poland as part of NATO build-up in Eastern Europe in Zagan, Poland, January 14, 2017. 

NATO, for its part, has suspended all practical cooperation with Moscow and started to deploy troops and weaponry to Baltic States—Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia—near Russia since then.
Moscow is seriously wary of the US-led alliance’s military build-up near its borders. In response to the aggressive measures, Russia has beefed up its southwestern military capacity, deploying nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles to its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad bordering Poland and Lithuania.
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