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5 Nov, 2009 20:00

Poland wants more American troops on its soil

The Polish Foreign Minister has voiced a desire to station US troops in the country. They are meant to protect Poles from an attack by Russia, he said. Moscow called the statement “absolutely unacceptable”.

Radoslaw Sikorski, who is now on a visit to Washington, said Warsaw felt uneasy being a border country of NATO and wanted its American partner to provide security.

“Our wish is to have American troops stationed in our country as a shield against Russian aggression,” the minister said, as cited by Interfax news agency.

The senior official pointed out at the recent joint military exercise by Russian and Belarus as the latest irritant for Poland.

“If you had 900 tanks on one side and six foot soldiers on the other, would you feel secure?” he asked, referring to the number of American soldiers currently serving on Polish soil.

The minister claimed that the exercise included a simulated landing on the Polish coast and said that Russia was sending an unclear message with “the biggest military exercises on NATO's eastern frontier since the end of the Cold War”.

Sikorski said the Pentagon’s deployment of troops in his country would be a “strategic encouragement” by Washington of its ally in Eastern Europe.

The statements are “absolutely unacceptable” and may lead to cooling of Russo-Polish relations, according to Konstantin Kosachev, who heads the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian State Duma.

“Sikorski de facto calls on the US to review agreement between NATO and Russia, which provided that no large military contingent will be deployed on the territories of new NATO members,” he said in an interview to the Ekho Mosckvi radio station.

The Russian official dismissed allegations that the exercise of Russia and Belarus posed any threat to Poland and accused Warsaw of trying to get financial benefits from “antagonizing and demonizing Russia”.

“Germany’s hosting of American troops brought up to 7 billion euros to German coffers annually, and I think Mr. Sikorski is well aware of it,” Kosachev said.

There are several intentions behind Sikorski’s comments, Vladimir Kozin, a political analyst, told RT. These are: “to destabilize the situation in Europe, to disrupt potential negotiations on a new security treaty in Europe that Russia is putting forward, and to urge the US and NATO to deploy more troops on Polish soil,” he said.

Recently, both the US and NATO have been making positive gestures towards Russia, showing their willingness to improve relations between Moscow and Washington, and between Russia and the alliance. “The thing is that Mr Sikorski is not happy with that,” Kozin said.

Poland played an important part in the Bush administration’s plans for a strategic anti-missile shield. However they were reviewed and altered by the Obama administration. Washington is nevertheless living up to its promise to deploy a division of Patriot air defense missiles. They were part of a deal with Poland, which wanted to tighten up its security in the wake of missing out on the anti-missile system elements.