US troops arrive in Poland for exercises across Eastern Europe amid Ukraine crisis

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U.S. Army paratroopers are arriving in Poland on Wednesday as part of a wave of U.S. troops heading to shore up America’s Eastern European allies in the face of Russian meddling in Ukraine.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said an initial contingent of about 600 troops will head to four countries across Eastern Europe for military exercises over the next month.

First, about 150 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team based in Vicenza, Italy, are arriving in Poland.

Additional Army companies will head to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and are expected to arrive by Monday for similar land-based exercises in those countries.

The show of strength comes as the United States, European allies and Ukraine try to ease tensions with Russia and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. All sides struck a diplomatic agreement last week, but it remains unclear whether pro-Russian demonstrators, who took over a series of government buildings in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, will back down.

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