On Thursday, the U.S. troops were welcomed in Olsyna, Poland as they arrived as part of one of President Obama’s last efforts to push back against Moscow. According to NPR News, the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division crossed over the border from Germany with over 2,500 vehicles, including 87 tanks and 144 M2 and M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles (BFVs), much to the dismay of the Kremlin (Russia’s executive office located in Moscow).
“These actions threaten our interests, our security. Especially as it concerns a third party building up its military presence near our borders. It’s not even a European state,” Dmitry Peskoy, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told NPR News.
The decision to put U.S. troops inside Poland was announced at the NATO summit in July of 2016, a move which shocked many in Eastern Europe. In a speech alongside Polish President Andrzej Duda, President Obama told those in attendance that, “Poland will be seeing an increase in NATO and American personnel and in the most modern military equipment.”
He went on to say, “Poland, and our allies across the region, can remain confident that NATO will stand with you, shoulder-to-shoulder, no matter what, today and always.”
According to NPR, the motion to add troops was also partially in response to the Russian annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move by Russian President Putin that brought strong condemnation from the Obama Administration.
With President-elect Trump’s public statements that he wishes to repair ties with the Russian government, regional leaders in Eastern Europe are unsure how long the U.S. troops will remain in the region. Once Trump takes office on January 20th, it is a possibility that he will pull back some or all of the U.S. servicemen in Poland.
U.S. Army Col. Christopher Norrie, who commanded the convoy into Poland on Thursday, said that the new mission was a “cornerstone to preserving freedom across Europe.”