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Polish Leaders Welcome U.S. Troops As Part Of NATO Buildup

U.S. troops arriving at the Polish-German border on January 12

Polish leaders welcomed U.S. troops to their country on January 14, with Prime Minister Beata Szydlo saying it was a "great day" that would help ensure the region's security.

About 3,500 American soldiers have been deployed as part of NATO troop rotations in Eastern Europe aimed at reassuring regional allies following Russian moves against Ukraine.

"This is an important day for Poland, for Europe, for our common defense," Szydlo said on January 14 at a ceremony in the western town of Zagan.

Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said the troops would help ensure "freedom, independence, and peace in Europe and the whole world."

"This is America's most capable fighting force -- a combat-ready, highly trained U.S. armored brigade with our most advanced equipment and weaponry," said U.S. Ambassador to Poland Paul Jones at the Zagan ceremony.

"This force embodies America's ironclad commitment to honor our NATO treaty obligation to defend our NATO allies," he added. "And as threats grow, U.S. military deployments also grow."

Russia has been highly critical of the troop deployment, which comes in reactions to Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 and its backing of separatists in the country’s east.

"These actions threaten our interests, our security," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on January 12. "Especially as it concerns a third party building up its military presence near our borders."

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and CNN