‘Real chance’ of US boosting military presence in Poland: defence minister

Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said on Monday there is “a real chance” of the United States increasing the number of troops it has stationed in Poland.

Asked what the odds were of Washington stepping up its military presence following his talks with top American officials on the issue last month, Błaszczak told state broadcaster Polish Radio: “There is a chance. It is a real chance.”

He added that such talks were “a process.”

Amid fears of Russian aggression following Moscow’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014, NATO decided at a Warsaw summit in July 2016 to deploy four rotating multinational battalions to Poland and three Baltic countries.

Błaszczak last month met President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton for talks on boosting the number of US troops in Poland, cooperation in NATO, the potential threat from Russia and the modernisation of the Polish army, Polish Radio reported.

Błaszczak also held talks at the Pentagon with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who said he was open to discussion about increasing the American military presence in Poland, according to reports.

Mattis thanked Błaszczak for Poland’s contribution to the campaign to defeat the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and to the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, the US Department of Defense said on its website.

Mattis also praised Poland for deciding to steadily hike defence spending to 2.5 percent of its GDP, Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

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