Pentagon weighs deploying troops to Poland as militants snub Ukraine pact

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Jan.30, 2014. Poland's Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak (L) walks with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel

The Pentagon is exploring options for deploying U.S. troops to Poland to expand NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe because of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, as pro-Russian militants defiantly refused Friday to leave government buildings in eastern Ukraine despite a diplomatic accord reached in Geneva.

A senior U.S. official told Fox News on Friday the U.S. is considering sending relatively small units to the country of around 130 soldiers, and the units would be there on a rotational basis.

Poland’s Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak told the Washington Post Friday the U.S. was planning on sending ground troops after speaking with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Thursday.

Siemoniak said military planners are working out the logistics and the two countries also plan to increase their cooperation in air defense, cyber defense, special forces and other areas. Siemonack said he believes the U.S. needs to turn its focus back to Europe, after announcing a “pivot” to Asia.

“The idea until recently was that there were no more threats in Europe and no need for a U.S. presence in Europe anymore,” Siemoniak told the Washington Post. “Events show that what is needed is a re-pivot, and that Europe was safe and secure because America was in Europe.”

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told Fox News the agency will not announce any specific plans at this time, but is considering military options in Europe.

“As Secretary Hagel made clear, we continue to look for ways to reassure NATO allies of our strong commitment to collective defense under Article Five,” he said. “To that end, we are considering a range of additional measures we could take to bolster air, maritime and ground readiness in Europe.”

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