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Kremlin Says U.S. Military Presence In Poland Would Undermine European Stability

Polish and U.S. troops hold joint exercises in Poland last year. (file photo)
Polish and U.S. troops hold joint exercises in Poland last year. (file photo)

The Kremlin has expressed concern over reports that Poland has requested a permanent U.S. military presence on its soil, saying NATO's expansion towards Russia's borders undermines stability in Europe.

A top Polish national security official confirmed the proposal on May 29 and said Warsaw is willing to help Washington defray the costs of stationing troops in Poland by spending up to $2 billion on the infrastructure needed to support such a military presence.

Asked about the move, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was every country's sovereign right to make such decisions, but he said it would prompt a Russian countermove and further roil relations between Moscow and the West.

"When we see the gradual expansion of NATO military structures towards our borders...this of course in no way creates security and stability on the continent," Peskov told reporters in a conference call late on May 28.

"On the contrary, these expansionist actions of course lead to counteraction from the Russian side in order to balance the parity which is violated every time in this way," Peskov said.

The head of the Polish presidency's national security office, Pawel Soloch, confirmed in a television interview on May 29 that Poland's Defense Ministry had sent a proposal to permanently station U.S. troops on Polish soil to Congress, governmental institutions, and think-tanks.

"Yes, we are interested in the presence of American forces in our country, and we have submitted -- including to think tanks -- some options that we could offer if such decisions were adopted," Soloch said.

Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine since 2014 have raised concerns in Poland and other NATO member countries that border Russia.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

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