By Alicja Ptak
WARSAW – U.S. military equipment has begun to arrive in Poland, the Polish defence ministry said on Friday, to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank as the West and Russia wrangle over Russia’s military presence near the Ukrainian border.
President Joe Biden’s administration announced on Wednesday the deployment of nearly 3,000 American troops to eastern Europe in the coming days amid a standoff with Russia over Ukraine.
Around 1,700 soldiers from the Fort Bragg-based 82nd Airborne Division are meant to come to Poland, Poland’s Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak and the Pentagon said on Wednesday, but only on a temporary basis.
In addition, roughly 300 troops will be based in Germany, where a joint headquarters is expected to be set up.
Poland’s Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak announced on Thursday evening that an “advance group” had already arrived in Poland.
“This is a clear signal of allied solidarity,” he wrote on Twitter, posting photos of soldiers unloading equipment from a single C-130 Hercules transport plane.
Private broadcaster TVN24 showed the unloading of two American aircraft on Friday in Rzeszow-Jesionka airport in Southern Poland. The broadcaster reported that so far six American planes had landed.
It is not yet clear when U.S. soldiers will arrive and where they will be based. The Polish Defence Ministry’s operation centre referred Reuters to the U.S. Army, which did not immediately answer Reuters’ request for additional information.
The U.S. military already has about 4,500 troops in Poland in both a NATO and a bilateral capacity, mostly stationed in the west of the country on a rotational basis.
(Reporting by Alicja Ptak; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)