Seeking to forge even more robust ties with the U.S., NATO member Poland has proposed that America set up a permanent military presence in that country and is willing to share the financial burden associated with it.
A 39-page report from the Polish Defense Ministry suggests that an ongoing presence of U.S. forces would provide stability in the region given Russia’s annexation of Ukraine and other aggressive, expansionist actions on the world stage.
“This proposal outlines the clear and present need for a permanent U.S. armored division deployed in Poland, Poland’s commitment to provide significant support that may reach — 1.5-2 billion [U.S. dollars] — by establishing joint military installations and provide for more flexible movement of U.S. forces. Together, the United States and Poland can build an even stronger bond — one which guarantees the safety, security and freedom of its people for generations to come.”
Along with NATO units, a temporary U.S. military presence already exists in Poland, which joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1999, as part of a rotation through several neighboring countries.
As might be expected, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Russian government at the Kremlin, seemed less than enthusiastic about the idea, the Washington Times reported.
“It depends what kind of base it will be…The immediate approach of NATO’s military structure to our borders does not in any way contribute to security and stability on the continent; on the contrary, these expansionist actions, of course, inevitably lead to countermeasures on the Russian side in order to balance the parity that breaks each time.”
In a July 2017 visit to Poland, U.S. President Donald Trump touted the strong alliance between the two countries and reaffirmed a commitment “to maintaining peace and security in Central and Eastern Europe.” Against that backdrop, it is likely that Russia’s security concerns will have minimal impact on whatever decision the POTUS makes in response to the proposal from Warsaw.
Recall that Trump officially moved the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, both of which ran counter to the recommendations of the international diplomatic community.
It’s too early to tell whether the U.S. will go along with the military proposal from Poland, however.
Trump has convinced about 25 NATO members to increase their defense spending so that the financial responsibility no longer falls primarily on U.S. taxpayers. In compliance with the spending targets, Poland has reportedly been allocating 2 percent-plus of its Gross National Product to military expenditures since 2015, Politico noted.
“Coming just over a month before NATO leaders gather in Brussels for a summit, the Polish initiative is bound to anger Russia, and will be looked at with skepticism by European allies that want to improve relations with Moscow, such as Italy and at times Germany,” Politico claimed, however.
In late April, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis welcomed his counterpart, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak, to the Pentagon (see featured image above) where he declared that “the bond between the militaries and the people of the United States and Poland remains strong.”
The Polish military has participated in the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq and provided support in Afghanistan, Mattis added, a Department of Defense news release explained.