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Polish defence minister thanks US for military support amid Russian buildup

18.02.2022 14:00
The Polish defence minister on Friday hosted his American counterpart and thanked the United States for enhancing its military presence in Poland amid a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine.
Polands Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak (R) and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (L) hold a joint news conference after their talks in Warsaw on Friday.
Poland's Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak (R) and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (L) hold a joint news conference after their talks in Warsaw on Friday. PAP/Leszek Szymański

Poland’s Mariusz Błaszczak and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin held a joint news conference after their talks in Warsaw. 

“Our meeting is especially important ... now amid the international security crisis created by Russia,” Błaszczak told reporters, as quoted by Polish state news agency PAP.

He added: “We very much appreciate the presence of US forces in Poland. Your support in these difficult times demonstrates your responsibility and unshakable commitment to the security of Poland and Europe.”

Błaszczak told reporters that “Russia’s imperial policy requires that we and our allies take complex deterrence measures.”

“We have received additional American troops to bolster the eastern flank of NATO," he said, adding that Britain has also sent extra troops to Poland.

"We will be working together as long as necessary," Błaszczak told the news conference.

Addressing Austin, he said: “Mr. Secretary, thank you for strengthening the US military presence in Poland and for declaring that both NATO and the United States can make further reinforcements if needed.”

“Together, we can act more effectively and achieve more,” Błaszczak also said. “We have a shared goal, namely peace and security.”

He stated: “Unity and cooperation within NATO is the best response to Russia’s aggressive actions.”

'Putin will see a stronger NATO on his flank:' Austin

Meanwhile, Austin said: “I’d like to thank Poland for regularly hosting more than 4,000 enduring rotational U.S. military personnel, the fourth largest concentration of US forces in Europe.

Referring to the Ukraine crisis and the new deployment of US troops to Poland, Austin told reporters: “What Mr. Putin did not want to see happen was a stronger NATO on his flank. That's what exactly he will see moving forward.”

He stressed: “Any Russian attack or further incursion into Ukraine would not only ignite conflict, it would also violate the bedrock principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity and self-determination.”

The Pentagon chief also said: “Poland knows firsthand the steep cost paid by victims of aggression from larger neighbors, and it has made valuable contributions to assist Ukraine in building up its defense capabilities."

Austin told the news conference that, in response to a formal request from Poland, he and Secretary of State Antony Blinkenhave relayed our intent to Congress to offer Poland the opportunity to acquire 250 M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks.”

Austin later said in a tweet that he had "a very productive meeting" with Błaszczak "on Russia’s military activities around Ukraine."

"We look forward to increasing our interoperability through Poland’s acquisition of M1A2 Abrams tanks, which will enhance NATO’s deterrence efforts,” Austin tweeted.

Earlier on Friday, Błaszczak announced on Twitter that the US State Department had approved the sale of state-of-the-art Abrams tanks to Poland, calling it “one of the more significant arms contracts in Poland’s history.” 

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has said that nearly all of the 4,700 US troops recently assigned to Poland amid the Russian military buildup around Ukraine have already arrived in the country.


Source: PAP