US F-16s might stay in Poland throughout 2014 – Hagel

US F-16s might stay in Poland throughout 2014 – Hagel

Twelve US F-16 fighter planes which are now stationed in Poland under the US aviation detachment programme could stay there until the end of the year, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said after Thursday talks with Polish Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak. 

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) and Defense Minister of Poland Tomasz Siemoniak (R) hold a joint news conference following their bilateral meeting at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, USA, 17 April 2014. Hagel and Siemoniak discussed how the Ukraine crisis affects the region and a planned missile defense system in Poland.   Photo: Michael Reynolds/PAP/EPA

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) and Defense Minister of Poland Tomasz Siemoniak (R) hold a joint news conference following their bilateral meeting at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, USA, 17 April 2014. Hagel and Siemoniak discussed how the Ukraine crisis affects the region and a planned missile defense system in Poland.
Photo: Michael Reynolds/PAP/EPA

Referring to Wednesday’s announcement of the NATO secretary-general related to increasing the alliance’s military presence near its eastern borders, Hagel stressed that the aim was not to provoke Russia but to reiterate NATO’s collective defence principle.

The United States is fully prepared to fulfil its duties under this principle, Hagel assured during a joint press conference in Washington.

„We have discussed tighter Polish-US military cooperation,” the Polish defence minister said after the meeting. „The current crisis prompts us to do some things in a quicker and more comprehensive way,” he added.

„We have agreed today that we will start work on a Polish-US solidarity and partnership programme related to stronger military cooperation,” Tomasz Siemoniak announced.

Among the elements of the programme, Siemoniak mentioned air defence and „permanent presence of US aircraft in Poland and opening to exercises with our allies in the region.”

The Polish defence minister also recalled the ongoing procedure of acquiring US long-range JASSM cruise missiles for Polish F-16s. „We intend to deepen the cooperation of special forces. We have been discussing the presence of US forces in Poland. We have been discussing cyber defence,” the minister enumerated.

Chuck Hagel announced that the United States would support the Ukrainian armed forces with non-lethal equipment, including medical supplies, helmets, water treatment installations and generators.

The US defence secretary expressed grave concern over Russia’s destabilising activities in eastern Ukraine and stressed that Russia was responsible to take steps to de-escalate the conflict.

Meanwhile, Canada’s PM Stephen Harper announced on Thursday that his country was sending six CF-18 fighter planes to Poland under NATO operation in reaction to the Ukrainian crisis.

The Canadian aircraft are to be stationed in central Poland’s Lask base where the US aviation detachment is already present.

„This is in response to the situation that’s developing there, and frankly, more generally to the concern that we have on what really is expansionism and militarism on the part of Russia under the presidency of Mr. Putin,” Harper was quoted as saying by Canadian television CBC News.

Canada will also provide a contingent of approximately 20 Canadian Armed Forces officers to NATO headquarters in Brussels. (PAP)

Categories: News in English

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