Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak has reiterated that Poland will push hard for a decision on strengthening NATO’s presence in Poland to be made at the alliance's Warsaw summit in July 2016.
Asked by journalists at a training ground in Yavoriv near Lviv in Ukraine about recent US declarations that there might not be permanent US bases in Poland, but rotational military exercises instead, Siemoniak said Poland was determined that NATO will have a permanent presence in Poland as a means of responding to aggressive actions by Russia.
“Of course we want this rotational presence to be turned into a constant presence. The first step was made in May in Washington and it was agreed that heavy American equipment should be deployed in Poland. We are fighting for Poland to have these bases,” he said.
The minister added that the Russian-Ukrainian crisis will not end quickly. “We support the Minsk peace process, but you can see that these aggressive actions by Russia - the annexation of the Crimea, operations in Ukraine - show a new and negative trend,” Siemoniak said.
Siemoniak said he was engaged in ongoing discussions about US military deployments in Poland with US Defence Secretary Ash Carter.
The US military has been conducting drills with NATO allies in Eastern Europe amid regional alarm over Russia's role in the Ukraine conflict. The US has said it will send an armoured brigade of up to 250 vehicles, including tanks, to Germany to support its NATO allies and will decide whether any of those vehicles will be deployed to other European countries.
Reports say up to 5,000 Nato troops could be equipped with the weapons set to be stored in eastern Europe. No precise locations have been named yet. (jh/rk)