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11/03/2014 | US deploys fighter jets to Poland, Lithuania

AFP

The United States is sending a dozen F-16 fighter jets to Poland as a part of a training exercise, amid continuing tensions between Ukraine and Russia, the Polish defence ministry said on Sunday.

 

Three hundred US service personnel will also be sent to Poland as part of the exercise. The deployment will be completed by Thursday.

Chuck Hagel, the US Secretary of State for Defence, and his Polish counterpart Tomasz Siemoniak agreed the deployment during a phone call, according to a statement from the Polish ministry.

"The unit will be composed of 12 F-16 planes and will transport 300 soldiers," defence ministry spokesman Jacek Sonta told AFP.

The fighters had been sent following a request from Poland.

The exercise was originally planned to be smaller but was increased and pushed forward because of the "tense political situation" in Ukraine, added Sonta.

The deployment in Poland comes after Washington announced it was also sending four F-15 planes to Lithuania to strengthen surveillance in the airspace around the Baltic.

According to Lithuania's defence ministry, the deployment was in response to "Russian aggression in Ukraine and increased military activity in Kaliningrad," the Russian exclave which borders Poland and Lithuania.

While, Poland has 48 of its own F-16 fighter jets, the Baltic states do not have sufficient air resources and look to NATO to provide protection for its airspace.

AFP (Chile)

 



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