US soldiers
U.S. soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division walk inside a military base north of Mosul, Iraq, February 14, 2017. Picture taken February 14, 2017. Reuters/Khalid al Mousily

The United States will be deploying 1,000 soldiers to Poland in late March this year. The move, announced by the US Army’s European headquarters in Germany, comes as NATO steps up its military presence in eastern Europe – something that has been opposed by Russia.

The deployment will be part of 4,000 US troops that are stationed in rotation along NATO’s eastern flank. The soldiers will be located in the Polish town of Orzysz, located 137 kilometres from Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave.

The push comes after Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov described NATO as a “Cold War institution,” the expansion of which has caused tensions in Europe. NATO has been increasing its eastern flank with soldiers, war games and warehoused US equipment amid growing concerns that Russia could invade Poland or the Baltic states following its seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014. In light of this, US Vice President Mike Pence has reassured Baltic and Black Sea Nations of continued US support.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said the mission planning taken up by NATO in Warsaw last year was “no longer sufficient,” as reported by AFP (via Deutsche Welle). "Without the support of the US air defense systems, we will not have full protection," she said. "We need a faster decision-making process.”

Russia sees two US missile interceptor stations hosted by Poland and Romania as a definite threat. It deployed Iskander missiles into Kaliningrad last year.

A US armoured brigade arrived in Poland to train with Polish forces at the southwestern Polish town of Zagan, situated around 70 kilometres from the German city of Cottbus. In January, more than 80 tanks and other vehicles had come in Bremerhaven in western Germany.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said earlier this week the alliance would increase "enhanced training" in the Black Sea regions. However, he added, it was only seen as a "defensive" measure. "We don't want to provoke a conflict,” Stoltenberg said. “We want to prevent conflict and preserve the peace.”

On the other hand, German soldiers have arrived in Lithuania, where Berlin has 1,000 troops stationed. Britain will be heading the deterrent force in Estonia from April this year. Canada is deploying troops in Latvia. US soldiers will be arriving in Poland and across the Baltic states.

According to the Kremlin, accumulation of troops poses a significant threat to the stability of central Europe. It is the largest expansion since World War II. NATO believes Russia has around 33,000 troops stationed in its Western military district.