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US troops to stay in Poland, Baltics until 2015

  • 2014-11-24
  • By Rayyan Sabet-Parry and wire reports, RIGA

(photo: creative commons)

U.S. troops will remain in Poland and the Baltic states through 2015 "to deter Russian aggression", Lt. General Ben Hodges, Commander of U.S. Army Europe, said on Sunday.

"There are going to be U.S. army forces here in Lithuania, as well as Estonia and Latvia and Poland, for as long as it's required to deter Russian aggression," said Hodges.

The United States has planned rotations out through next year.

The United States sent about 600 troops in April to the ex-Soviet Baltic states and former Warsaw Pact member Poland in response to tension with Russia over the war in Ukraine.

NATO allies have also deployed hundreds of troops for exercises in recent months. The alliance has also boosted its airforce presence in the region.

It comes amid fears from Baltic officials, Russia is stepping up its military activity in the region. NATO said it intercepted a Russian jet over Estonian airspace earlier this month, a claim Moscow has denied.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's chief spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the BBC the build up of troops made Moscow nervous,

"We'll continue to make it much more tense as far as our national interests are. The longer our national interests are in danger the longer we'll reply. This does not mean we want a cold war. We want our counterparts to understand we have red lines and we can't pass red lines and we expect our partners to understand where our red lines are."