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United States tanks and troops arrive in Poland

15 January 2017

On Thursday, Poland welcomed thousands of United States troops along with armoured vehicles and tanks as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which is aimed at showing Moscow that Washington is committed to protecting its Eastern European allies.

Polish defence minister Antoni Macierewicz said the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation deployment puts an end to Russia's influence in the region.

For many Poles wondering whether Russian Federation has expansionist motives after the annexation of Crimea, the troops' arrival was cause for celebration.

"This is the fulfilment of a dream", said Michal Baranowski, director of the German Marshall Fund think tank in Warsaw.

"Their arrival is just one small but meaningful example of how we are quickly building combat power here", he added.

A "permanent" deployment would violate agreements with Russia, The Guardian reports, and so troops will be rotated out every nine months.

The forces are expected to eventually fan out across several countries from Bulgaria to Estonia.

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Many people in Poland said they still felt betrayed by Obama's own "reset" with Russian Federation early on in his administration, which involved abandoning plans for a major USA missile defense system in Poland and replacing it with plans for a less ambitious system.

"Trump has a proclivity to make deals, and Central and Eastern Europe have reason to worry about that", Marcin Zaborowski, a senior associate at Visegrad Insight, a journal on Central Europe, told the AP.

Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, on the other hand, has said he hopes any effort to reconcile with Russian Federation "does not happen at our expense".

The move by Washington is the biggest military reinforcement in Europe in decades and comes only days before the inauguration of Donald Trump whose committement to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation remains uncertain. Germany, Canada and Britain are sending battalions to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Originally, the United States troops' deployment was scheduled for the end of January, a change that may be meant to "lock the president-elect into the strategy", as The Guardian's Ewen MacAskill notes. But during confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Trump's nominee for defense secretary, retired Marine General James Mattis, expressed doubts about the prospects for cozy relations with Moscow.

The Kremlin criticized the deployment on Thursday.

President Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that any country would regard a buildup of foreign military presence near its borders negatively. "It isn't even a European country".

United States tanks and troops arrive in Poland