President Trump laid out his rationale while hosting his Polish counterpart at the White House. President Andrzej Duda who is allied with the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) was on his third visit to the White House this week since Donald Trump took office. He is the first foreign leader to be received in Pennsylvania Avenue since the pandemic lockdown.
For such an honor, Trump readily explained that the purpose of his Polish embrace was to spite both Germany and Russia. He confirmed the planned removal of U.S. troops from German soil, which he announced last week, and said some of those units would be going to Poland.
“We’re going to be reducing our forces in Germany. Some will be coming home and some will be going to other places, but Poland would be one of those other places,” said Trump at a press briefing at the White House with Duda.
He said that would send “a very strong signal to Russia”.
The Kremlin responded that such a move would violate the 1997 Russia-NATO Founding Act. Moscow has previously protested deployment of U.S. troops in Poland on a rotational basis. Now the American forces seem to be setting up permanent bases.
Trump repeated his accusation that Germany was “delinquent” in its military spending on the NATO alliance.
“Poland is one of the few countries that are fulfilling their obligations under NATO, in particular their monetary obligations,” said Trump. “And they asked us if we would send some additional troops. They’re going to pay for that. They’ll be paying for the sending of additional troops, and we’’ll probably be moving them from Germany to Poland. We’re going to be reducing Germany very substantially.”
The American president was referring to an arbitrary spending target of 2 per cent of national economy for NATO members. Germany allocates about 1.3 per cent, although it has dramatically increased its military spending over the past two years. However, that is still not enough for Trump who has repeatedly chided Berlin for seeking protection from the U.S. while allegedly not paying its dues.
Poland is one of eight NATO members in the 30-nation military alliance that does meet the 2 per cent spending target, although in absolute monetary terms its annual military budget is only about a quarter of Germany’s ($50 billion).
Trump is also known to have a sour relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Her refusal in May to attend a proposed G7 summit in Washington was seen as a snub to Trump. Tellingly, his surprise move to pull U.S. troops out of Germany then followed that spat.
The initial White House report to withdraw some 9,5000 American soldiers stationed in Germany out of a total of 35,000 blindsided politicians in Berlin. The Pentagon also seemed to not have been consulted by Trump. The hasty move smacked of vindictiveness by Trump, intent on insulting the Germans. Certainly, the horrified reaction from the Berlin establishment showed that Trump had hit [ … ]