Europe

Polish leader welcomes NATO troops, hails 'historic moment'

  • U.S. troops, part of a NATO mission to enhance Poland's defence, are getting ready for an official welcoming ceremony in Orzysz, northeastern Poland, Thursday, April 13, 2017. Poland's Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti are to attend the ceremony for the new force that also includes British, Romanian and other troops. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

    U.S. troops, part of a NATO mission to enhance Poland's defence, are getting ready for an official welcoming ceremony in Orzysz, northeastern Poland, Thursday, April 13, 2017. Poland's Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti are to attend the ceremony for the new force that also includes British, Romanian and other troops. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. troops, part of a NATO mission to enhance Poland's defence, are getting ready for an official welcoming ceremony in Orzysz, northeastern Poland, Thursday, April 13, 2017. Poland's Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti are to attend the ceremony for the new force that also includes British, Romanian and other troops. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

    U.S. troops, part of a NATO mission to enhance Poland's defence, are getting ready for an official welcoming ceremony in Orzysz, northeastern Poland, Thursday, April 13, 2017. Poland's Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti are to attend the ceremony for the new force that also includes British, Romanian and other troops. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. troops, part of a NATO mission to enhance Poland's defence, are getting ready for an official welcoming ceremony in Orzysz, northeastern Poland, Thursday, April 13, 2017. Poland's Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti are to attend the ceremony for the new force that also includes British, Romanian and other troops. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

    U.S. troops, part of a NATO mission to enhance Poland's defence, are getting ready for an official welcoming ceremony in Orzysz, northeastern Poland, Thursday, April 13, 2017. Poland's Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti are to attend the ceremony for the new force that also includes British, Romanian and other troops. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)  (The Associated Press)

Polish leaders have welcomed a new multinational NATO battalion to Poland, with the president calling it "a historic moment for my country."

The near-permanent deployment of a NATO battalion under U.S. command marks the first time NATO troops have been placed so close to Russian territory, a step that Kremlin denounces as a threat to its own security.

But Polish President Andrzej Duda described the deployment for Poles as a symbol of liberation and inclusion into the Western democratic world. At a ceremony in Orzysz, Duda said: "it's not an exaggeration to say that generations of Poles have waited for this moment since the end of the Second World War."

The NATO deployment is separate from a U.S. battalion of 3,500 that arrived in Poland earlier in the year.