US sending 600 troops to Poland, Baltics for drills23 april 2014, 13:50
The United States is deploying about 600 troops to Poland and the Baltics to underscore its commitment to NATO allies amid tensions with Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, AFP reports citing the Pentagon.
A company of 150 soldiers from the US Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade based in Vicenza, Italy will arrive in Poland on Wednesday and roughly 450 troops are due in Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia in coming days as part of a new series of exercises due to last at least through the end of the year, spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told a news conference.
"Since Russia's aggression in the Ukraine, we have been constantly looking at ways to reassure our allies and partners," Kirby said.
The deployment of US troops is "a very tangible representation of our commitment to our security obligations in Europe," he said.
The move also sent a "message to Moscow" that "we take our obligations very, very seriously on the continent of Europe."
The US Army troops flying to the region this week would be in place for a month and then replaced by other American forces, in a succession of deployments with no end date, he said.
"How far this will go? I can't give you a specific, you know, deadline or timeline on it. But we're looking at trying to keep this rotational presence persistent throughout the rest of this year," he said.
The move is the latest bid by Washington to soothe concerns among NATO allies in Eastern Europe, where Russia's intervention in Ukraine has sparked growing alarm.
Since the start of the Ukraine crisis, the Pentagon has sent 12 F-16 fighter jets and aviation support teams to Poland.
The Pentagon spokesman said he could not rule out the possibility that the army exercises and training could be extended to other NATO countries in the region.