The first U.S. military reinforcement for NATO allies in Eastern Europe amid a Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border arrived at the Rzeszow military base in southeastern Poland on Saturday.
A small plane carrying what a Polish military source said were US commanding personnel landed at Rzeszow-Jasionka airport in the morning as preparations continued at the base, near the border Poland’s border with Ukraine.
Television footage shows temporary accommodation being prepared at the G2A Arena in the nearby town of Jasionka, while workers can be seen building fences around the site.
“As announced, the first elements of the combat brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army have arrived in Poland,” a Polish military spokesman said.
On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden sent nearly 3,000 more troops to Poland and Romania to shield Eastern Europe from the spillover from the Ukraine crisis.
About 1,700 service members, mostly paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division, will deploy from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Poland “in the coming days,” US Army sources said.
According to the Pentagon, a squadron of Strykers with about 1,000 US service members based in the German town of Vilseck will be sent to Romania.
The first additional US troops arrived in Germany on Friday.
Russia has denied plans to invade Ukraine but has deployed more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border and says it may take unspecified military measures if its demands are not met, including NATO’s promise never to recognize Kyiv.
The new plan goes beyond the 8,500 troops the Pentagon put on alert last month to deploy to Europe if needed. NATO defense ministers are expected to discuss the reinforcements at their next meeting on February 16-17.
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