President Trump is sending additional troops and drones to Poland to counter Russian military activity in the region.
He made the announcement alongside Polish President Andrej Duda at a signing event at the White House on Tuesday at the White House, before a joint news conference where Trump said he still wants to have a ‘great relationship’ with Russia.
‘I hope that Poland’s going to have a great relationship with Russia. I hope that we’re going to have a great relationship with Russia,’ he said.
Duda told a reporter at the same news conference that Poland would like Russia to be an ally, but the nation’s invasions of Georgia and the Crimea make it difficult to trust Vladimir Putin’s government.
Trump is meeting with Putin at the end of the month in Japan. He said in an Oval Office meeting with Duda that he hopes Russia isn’t a threat to the country.
‘I hope not. Tell you what, we’re with everybody and I hope not. I think that Russia will treat Poland with respect just like the rest of the world is treating. Poland has really built up a great country,’ he said.
Trump said at the joint presser that was held in the White House Rose Garden under a blazing sun that Poland will provide basing and infrastructure for the troops the U.S. is sending.
‘The Polish government will build these projects at no cost to the United States. The Polish government will pay for this,’ he said.
Trump said Poland is also buying 32 F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin. The U.S. president gave Duda a demonstration of the aircraft in a flyover before the news conference.
‘As it flew over the White House, it actually came to a pretty close to a halt over the White House. I always say, what’s wrong with that plane, it’s not going very fast,’ the U.S. president said. ‘Considered to be the greatest fight jet in the world.’
The decision to expand America’s military presence in Poland comes after months of lobbying by Polish leaders who had hoped for a U.S. base in their country.
Officials said Tuesday that the preliminary agreement avoids any permanent U.S. base or presence in the country and sticks instead to a rotational force. There are currently about 4,500 U.S. troops that routinely rotate in and out of Poland.
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcome Polish President Andrzej Duda and his wife, Agata Kornhauser-Duda
President Trump said he’s sending 1,000 more troop to Poland alongside Duda today in Washington
There are currently about 4,500 U.S. troops that routinely rotate in and out of Poland
The new plans call for the construction of a new combat training center in Drawsko Pomorskie and additional facilities in the future. U.S. officials said the Reaper drones will be used to provide greater intelligence to Poland. The U.S. also expects to set up a military headquarters there.
President Donald Trump meets with Polish President Andrzej Duda at the White House. An aide to Duda has said that negotiations to increase American troops in Poland were successful.
Earlier this year Polish leaders said they ideally would like a permanent U.S. base and said it could be called ‘Fort Trump.’ But beefing up the current U.S. military rotations was always seen as a more realistic move.
Trump is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in two weeks at the G20
Following the Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, the U.S. has again been increasing military activity in Europe in concert with NATO allies.
That includes stationing four multinational battalion-size battlegroups in four eastern nations of the alliance, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, led respectively by the U.S., Britain, Canada and Germany.
The eastern European nations have reached out to the U.S. and NATO for greater protection, worrying that they might be the next target of Russia’s military advance.
The increase in U.S. forces in that region also reflects America’s new national defense strategy that declares great-power competition with China and Russia as a top priority.
A senior administration official on Tuesday said the U.S. wants to underscore its commitment to the defense of the region, and said Poland is a key partner. A second official declined to discuss details of the announcement but called it a new facet of the two nations’ military-to-military relationship that will enhance deterrence in Europe.
Trump is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in two weeks at the G20 summit in Japan.