Angry Russia condemns the move as a threat to its national security

  • Poles wave US flags as tanks and other vehicles head toward base in Zagan
  • Polish premier and defense minister to hold official welcoming ceremony
  • Deployment of 3,500 troops on Russia’s doorstep is the first ever by a NATO ally 
  • Russian actions in Ukraine have stoked fears of Moscow’s intentions
  • Putin aide denounced the move as a threat to Russian national security 

American soldiers rolled into Poland on Thursday, fulfilling a dream some Poles have had since the fall of communism in 1989 to have US troops on their soil as a deterrent against Russia.

Some people waved and held up American flags as US troops in tanks and other vehicles crossed into southwestern Poland from Germany and headed toward the town of Zagan, where they will be based.

Poland’s prime minister and defense minister will welcome them in an official ceremony Saturday.

‘This is the fulfillment of a dream,’ said Michal Baranowski, director of the German Marshall Fund think tank in Warsaw.

US Army soldiers are welcomed in an official military ceremony in Zagan, Poland, on Thursday

US Army vehicles are seen above as they cross the Polish border in Olszyna, Poland from Germany

US Army vehicles are seen above as they cross the Polish border in Olszyna, Poland from Germany

 The first deployment of US troops crossed into western Poland on Thursday

The first deployment of US troops crossed into western Poland on Thursday

‘And this is not just a symbolic presence but one with a real capability.’

US and other Western nations have carried out exercises on NATO’s eastern flank in past years, but the new deployment — which includes some 3,500 US troops — marks the first-ever continuous deployment to the region by a NATO ally.

It is part of a larger commitment by President Barack Obama to protect a region that grew deeply nervous when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and then began backing separatist rebels in Ukraine’s east.

There are fears, however, that the enhanced security could eventually be undermined by the pro-Kremlin views of President-elect Donald Trump.