Poland to Shift Thousands of Troops to Eastern Borders: AP

Image: Polish servicemen take part in military exercises outside the town of Yavoriv near Lviv
Polish servicemen take part in military exercises outside the town of Yavoriv near Lviv, September 19, 2014. Russia threatened to send more troops to its newly-annexed territory of Crimea on September 16, after NATO began exercises in western Ukraine while Kiev's forces are fighting pro-Russian separatists in the east. The Rapid Trident exercises, seen as a sign of alliance's commitment to support non-member Ukraine, are to be held around Lviv near Ukraine's border with Poland, nearly 1,000 km (600 miles) from the rebel stronghold of Donetsk in the east.Roman Baluk / Reuters, file

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WARSAW, Poland - Poland will move thousands of troops toward its eastern borders in a historic realignment of a military structure built in the Cold War, the country's defense minister told The Associated Press on Monday. Tomasz Siemoniak said the troops are needed in the east because of the conflict in neighboring Ukraine. "The geopolitical situation has changed, we have the biggest crisis of security since the Cold War and we must draw conclusions from that," Siemoniak said.

Seimoniak said that at least three military bases in the east will see their populations increase from the current 30 percent of capacity to almost 90 percent by 2017, and that more military hardware will be moved to those bases as well. He added that it was not some "nervous or radical move" but that because of this "situation of threat we would like those units in the east of Poland to be more efficient."

Although Poland joined NATO in 1999, most of Poland's 120,000-member army is based along the country's western border, as a relic of its former status as a Soviet Bloc member. The units in the east, like the air defense unit in Siedlce, have only 30 percent of jobs filled in line with a plan that calls for 100 percent of troops "only in the case of war."


- The Associated Press