Poland will fortify its military presence in the east of the country with the formation of a new division of the armed forces, Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak told the Polish Press Agency on Tuesday.
Mr Błaszczak said the new division's command in the eastern Polish town of Siedlce will be comprised of three brigades: two existing ones and and one to be formed from new troops.
Poland and other Baltic states have voiced concern regarding Russia after Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine. NATO has deployed troops in the Baltic states as well as Poland in order to deter any similar aggression in the region.
Błaszczak said the new division, which can number up to 15,000 troops, will strengthen the eastern flank and respond to “operational needs.”
Poland has repeatedly requested a permanent US military presence on its soil and has offered up to USD 2 billion in funding for such a base. US soldiers are now present on its soil through NATO’s back-to-back rotation.
Last March, Poland signed its largest arms deal ever, agreeing with the US to buy Raytheon Co’s Patriot missile defense system for USD 4.75 billion. Its plan to boost air defenses is aimed at deterring Russia, which has long opposed the integration of former Soviet bloc nations with NATO.