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Poland sends troops to Turkey to support NATO mission

Poland's government sent troops to Turkey Tuesday as part of a NATO agreement to help protect the alliance's interests in the region. Photo courtesy of Police Ministry of National Defense
Poland's government sent troops to Turkey Tuesday as part of a NATO agreement to help protect the alliance's interests in the region. Photo courtesy of Police Ministry of National Defense

April 20 (UPI) -- Poland sent troops to Turkey Tuesday to support NATO interests in the region, according to announcements from the alliance and the Polish government.

Per NATO's press release, the deployment will involve up to 80 soldiers, who will conduct maritime patrols over the eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea with a Polish M28 "Bryza" aircraft alongside NATO's naval groups in the region.

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"Polish soldiers are present where allied solidarity requires it," wrote Polish defense minister Mariusz Błaszczak in a statement released Tuesday.

"They carry out tasks of various nature, ensuring stability and security, as well as transferring their knowledge and skills. Joining the NATO mission in Turkey is another expression of the fact that Poland treats its alliances seriously and works for security on a global scale," Błaszczak said.

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In 2015, NATO allies agreed on a set of tailored assurance measures for Turkey to help the country respond to a "volatile security environment," according to NATO.

Those measures include increased presence of Airborne Warning And Control System aircraft in the region and increased maritime activities in the eastern Mediterranean, as well as intelligence and surveillance activities and information sharing.

In October 2020, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reaffirmed that the alliance would support Turkey's security interests, which include counterterrorism and a simmering conflict between the former Soviet republics Armenia and Azerbaijan, in addition to mineral rights in the Mediterranean.

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NATO in December announced Turkey would lead its 6,400-troop Very High Readiness Joint Task Force in 2021, taking over responsibility from Poland at the beginning of the year.

"Poland's deployment in support of Turkey demonstrates NATO solidarity in action. These maritime patrols will help to increase the Alliance's situational awareness in the region, and enhance our shared security," NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu said.

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