US President Donald Trump welcomed Polish President Andrzej Duda to the White House on Wednesday. The visit, Duda’s second within a year, was ostensibly to deal with two issues: Poland’s desire for an expanded US military presence and the US’ desire to sell natural gas to Poland. During the meeting, Trump also touched on the possibility of sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 project and warned Germany not to be dependent on Russian energy.
Addressing reporters in the White House Rose Garden after a day of meetings, Trump announced a memorandum of military co-operation, saying, “As the declaration makes very clear, the United States and Poland are not only bound by a strategic partnership but deep common values, shared goals and a very strong and abiding friendship.”
Trump also praised Poland’s commitment to NATO, singling it out for meeting spending aims, unlike Germany, whom he also singled out.
The president said he was considering sending up to 2,000 troops in total, though that higher number had not yet been agreed to. The troops would be redeployed to Poland from the 50,000-strong contingent the US has stationed in Germany.
Ever the one to be thrilled when foreign countries purchase “beautiful American weapons,” Trump was also ebullient when he announced that Poland would be buying 32 F-35 fighter jets.
Fort Trump: ‘That would be a statement’
Last year, Duda pitched the idea of a permanent US base in Poland, attempting to stroke the US president’s ego by suggesting it be called Fort Trump. Still, the US has been loath to escalate tensions with Russia by making a move that Moscow would no doubt see as a direct threat.
Nevertheless, the topic was obviously broached by Duda again on Wednesday, with Trump noting the Poles were offering a “world class base,” to which he added, “that would be a statement.”
Poland, for its part, sees Russia as a threat. In 2018, Poland signed a $4.75 billion (€4.21 billion) deal for the purchase of US Patriot anti-missile systems to boost its defense against potential Russian incursions.
Protecting Germany from Russia
The other issue that dominated talks between the two leaders was that of energy supply. The US has been eager to strike a deal to sell more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Poland, both as a way to boost its bottom line and to keep Russia out of the European market.
An extension of Poland’s commitment to buy LNG from the United States was among several documents signed by both men at Wednesday’s meeting. Trump claims the deal is worth about $8 billion. Trump also voiced support for Polish plans to construct a Baltic pipeline and announced expanded co-operation between the allies on civilian nuclear energy.
Trump once again criticized Germany for its Nord Stream 2 pipeline deal with Russia, threatening the specter of sanctions at an unspecified time in the future.
“We’re protecting Germany from Russia and Russia is getting billions and billions of dollars from Germany,” Trump said, adding that the Nord Stream 2 deal “really makes Germany a hostage of Russia if things ever happen that were bad.”
Asked about sanctions on Germany, Trump said, “We’re looking at it.
js/sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)