Military personnel take part in the unloading operation of US military equipment of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, ahead of the Defender 2020 international military exercises at the German port of Bremerhaven on February 21, 2020. (Photo by AFP)
Warsaw has expressed willingness to accommodate more American troops in the country and hoped that a portion of US forces set to be removed from Germany would be reassigned to Poland, a move that would probably draw Russia’s indignation against the backdrop of NATO-related tensions between Moscow and Washington.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki made the comment on Saturday after US President Donald Trump ordered the Pentagon to decrease US military presence in Germany and cut the number of American forces stationed there.
The move would reduce the number of US troops by 9,500 from the 34,500 permanently assigned in Germany.
“I deeply hope that as a result of the many talks that we had … part of the troops based today in Germany which are being removed by the United States … will indeed come to Poland,” Morawiecki told private radio RMF24. “The decision is now on the US side.”
The troop reduction is said to be related to the escalating tensions between Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the increased military spending by the NATO military alliance.
The US president has on several occasions criticized Berlin for spending too little on defense and called on America’s allies in NATO to spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense by 2024.
US vows military expansion in Poland, renews NATO criticismMike Pence says the United States is finalizing plans to increase military presence in Poland, praising the NATO ally for meeting its spending requirements unlike most of the alliance’s other members.
Trump has long complained that the US is paying much of the alliance’s costs. He told a NATO summit in Brussels in 2018 that Washington would “go its own way” if the allies failed to meet his requirements.
Moreover, the United States currently has 4,500 rotational troops in Poland and always been seeking to expand its military presence by deploying missiles in Eastern Europe and Russia’s doorstep despite repeated warnings from Moscow.
Warsaw and Washington started on Thursday two-week military exercises — dubbed ‘Defender Europe 2020’ — in northwestern Poland with the participation of about 4,000 US soldiers and approximately 2,000 Polish forces.
The war game has been described as the largest deployment of US-based forces to Europe in more than 25 years with 20,000 soldiers deployed directly from the US to Europe between February and May this year to take part in it.
Russia has formerly warned that any increased military presence in Poland could provoke Moscow’s retaliation and prompt it to step up its military presence in neighbouring Belarus.