Reacting to the biggest deployment of U.S. troops in Europe since the end of the cold war, Russia has branded the arrival of troops and tanks in Poland as a threat to Kremlin’s national security. The deployment, intended to counter what NATO portrays as Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, will see U.S. troops permanently stationed along Russia’s western border for the first time. About 1,000 of a promised 4,000 troops arrived in Poland at the start of the week, and a formal ceremony to welcome them is to be held on Saturday, reports the Guardian. After the arrival of the troops, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We perceive it as a threat. These actions threaten our interests, our security. Especially as it concerns a third party building up its military presence near our borders. It’s [the US], not even a European state.”
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Meanwhile, Pentagon press spokesman Peter Cook said: “The United States is demonstrating its continued commitment to collective security through a series of actions designed to reassure NATO allies and partners of America’s dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region in light of the Russian intervention in Ukraine.” Poland in particular has pressed for a permanent US troop deployment since soon after the fall of communism in 1989. Though the NATO officials insist that the US and other alliance troops deployed to eastern Europe are not “permanent”, which would be in breach of an agreement with Russia, the U.S. plans to rotate the troops every nine months, so it can argue they are not in breach of the Russian treaty, but effectively there will be a permanent presence. Deployment was originally scheduled for later in the month but a decision was made last month to bring it forward.
The troops from the Third Armor Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, based in Fort Carson, Colorado, along with hundreds of armoured vehicles and tanks, were moved from the U,S. to Germany last week for transit by rail and road to Poland and elsewhere in eastern Europe. The US is sending 87 tanks, and 144 armoured vehicles. The US troops will fan out across other eastern European states, including Estonia, Bulgaria and Romania.