01:25 GMT21 September 2020
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    NATO forces, deployed in Poland, are aimed at protecting Suwalki isthmus, bordering on Lithuania and Russia's Kaliningrad region, so that Moscow was unable to cut off the Baltic States from their "territorial rear area," Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said Monday.

    WARSAW (Sputnik) — The minister highlighted that the US troops would be deployed in a number of cities in western, northern and central Poland, and would be ready to respond to any external aggression.

    "The main forces are sent to defend Suwalki isthmus, so that the Russians were unable to cut off the Baltic countries from the territorial rear area, presented by Poland, which is the so-called strategic depth for NATO troops," Macierewicz said in an interview with Do Rzeczy newspaper.

    "The presence of the allied troops in the west of the country made it possible to make a decision to move part of the tank forces to the east bank of the Vistula," Macierewicz added.

    Macierewicz stressed that "Russia might not withdraw its troops from Belarus" after West-2017 military exercises, set for September.

    In early November 2016, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia and Belarus would hold joint military exercises dubbed Zapad-2017 ("West-2017") in September 2017. On January 30, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Alliance did not see any threat posed by Russia to its eastern flank.

    In the 2016 summit in Warsaw, NATO decided to deploy additional troops to the Baltic States and Poland, citing the states' vulnerability to the alleged threat posed by Russia. Moscow has repeatedly criticized the increased presence of the Alliance’s troops and military facilities near Russian borders, stressing it would never attack any of NATO member states.

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    Stoltenberg Cites 'Russian Buildup' as Cause of NATO Presence in Baltics, Poland
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    NATO, Russia, Poland
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