Last US troops arrive in Poland

Associated Press/Czarek Sokolowski

The last of the 4,700 U.S. troops deploying to Poland to bolster NATO’s defenses along its eastern flank have arrived, Pentagon officials told The New York Times.

The Pentagon first said on Feb. 2 that 1,700 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division stationed in Fort Bragg, N.C., would be deployed to Poland as part of an initial 3,000 troops that were being sent to Eastern Europe amid the fear that Russia may invade Ukraine.

Last week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered an additional 3,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne Infantry Brigade Combat Team to be sent directly to Poland. A senior defense official told The Hill at the time that those troops were expected to be in place this week. 

The Times reported that the troops arrived on Thursday, noting that the troops would not directly enter Ukraine.

The Pentagon referred questions on the arrival to European Command, which then referred questions to its Army component for Europe and Africa. The component didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

The arrival comes as the U.S. warns that there’s a high risk of Russia launching a military incursion against Ukraine, with Moscow having amassed more than 150,000 troops near its border with Ukraine.

Russia has denied such accusations and on Tuesday said it would draw down some of its troops. But 24 hours later, a senior U.S. official said that the Kremlin had actually added 7,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders.

President Biden said Thursday that he thinks Russia will invade “within the next several days.

Austin spoke with his Polish counterpart, Mariusz Blaszczak, during NATO’s defense ministerial in Brussels.

The Pentagon chief is visiting Poland on Friday, during which he will meet with Blaszczak and Polish President Andrzej Duda. He will also visit U.S. and Polish troops at Powidz Air Base.

In addition to adding troops in Poland, the U.S. has also repositioned 1,000 troops from the 2nd Calvary Regiment stationed in Germany to Romania to augment the more than 900 service members already on regular rotation there.

Another 300 troops from the 18th Airborne Corps are moving to Germany to form a Joint Task Force-capable headquarters.

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