Poland has offered to finance the cost of having thousands of US troops permanently stationed in the country as a deterrent to foreign aggression. According to reports in the Polish media, Poland is offering up to $2 billion to help build the infrastructure for the permanent deployment.
Poland’s defense minister says he has held talks with U.S. officials about the matter. Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said the U.S. Senate has contacted the Pentagon on the subject. U.S. troops in Poland are currently on a temporary, rotational mission. Poland joined NATO in 1999 along with Hungary and the Czech Republic
Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine has made Poland concerned about its security. Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have all expressed concern about Russia in recent years. Lithuania, which has hosted 150 US troops since 2014, has also asked for a permanent U.S. presence.
NATO-led battle groups have been deployed to the countries bordering the Baltic Sea to monitor Russia’s actions. Of immediate concern is the possibility of Russia closing the Suwalki Gap, a 60-mile-long section of the Poland-Lithuania border near Belarus. Closing the Gap would cut off the Baltic States from the rest of Europe.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said NATO’s expansion towards Russia’s borders would harm the overall atmosphere on the continent. Peskov said, “When we see the gradual expansion of NATO military structures towards our borders…, this of course in no way creates security and stability on the continent. On the contrary, these expansionist actions of course lead to counter-action from the Russian side in order to balance the parity which is violated every time in this way.”