U.S. Military Expansion in Poland Risks 'Inadvertent Incidents': Russia

A Russian government spokesperson has condemned a new defense cooperation agreement signed by the U.S. and Poland this weekend, warning that an expanded American military footprint in the country further raises the risk of an accidental confrontation with Moscow.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Monday in a statement that the U.S. and its NATO allies should be more cautious along the border of Russia's western enclave Kaliningrad.

"We would like to point out once again that increasing the U.S. military presence in Poland does not solve any security issues, on the contrary, it aggravates the difficult situation near Russia's Western borders, facilitating an escalation of tensions and increasing the risk of inadvertent incidents," Zakharova said in the statement posted to the foreign ministry's website.

The U.S.-Poland Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement allows American troops access to additional Polish military facilities and paves the way for the deployment of more U.S. troops to the country. The U.S. already has similar agreements with other NATO allies including Belgium, Hungary and Romania.

The new agreement will also establish a Polish headquarters for the U.S. Army V Corps, which will be staffed by 200 troops on a rotational basis. The rest of the force will still be based at its headquarters in Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Zakharova said Monday that "NATO's assurances that the agreement only provides for an insignificant and rotational contingent of reinforcements are simply attempts to distort reality." The U.S. deployment to Poland, she said, "will allow the sides to fundamentally increase the offensive potential of U.S. forces in Poland."

"We call on NATO member states to abandon their stance on confrontation with us and to return to restraint in the spirit of the Russia-NATO Founding Act," Zakharova said, referring to the 1997 accord that encouraged greater cooperation between Moscow and the Western alliance.

"It is also clear that the need for a substantive and honest dialogue on the issues in the sphere of European security and on recovering military contacts has been pressing for a while," Zakharova added.

The deal was signed two weeks after President Donald Trump said 12,000 U.S. troops would be withdrawn from their bases in Germany, with around half to be redistributed across other NATO nations including Poland. The remaining half will return to the U.S.

Poland has long pushed for a larger and more permanent U.S. military presence in the country, even trying to woo the president by offering to name a new base after him.

After the EDCA signing, Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said the deployment of U.S. troops "enhances our deterrence potential because we are closer to the potential source of conflict." He added: "It is important that they should be deployed here in Poland and not in Germany."

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Polish and U.S. troops take part in the Defender-Europe 20 joint military exercise at Drawsko Pomorskie training grounds in Poland on June 17, 2020. JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images/Getty