August 15, 2020 5:04:21 pm
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has sealed a defence cooperation deal with Polish officials that will pave the way for the redeployment of American troops from Germany to Poland.
In Warsaw on Saturday at the end of a four-nation tour of central and eastern Europe, Pompeo and Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak signed an Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement that sets out the legal framework for the additional troop presence.
The pact supplements an existing NATO Status of Forces Agreement and allows for the enhancement and modernisation of existing capabilities and facilities by granting US forces to access additional Polish military installations. It also sets out a formula for sharing the logistical and infrastructure costs of an expanded US presence in the country.
Some 4,500 US troops are currently based in Poland, but about 1,000 more are to be added, under a bilateral decision announced last year.
Last month, in line with President Donald Trump’s demand to reduce troop numbers in Germany, the Pentagon announced that some 12,000 troops would be withdrawn from Germany with about 5,600 moving to other countries in Europe, including Poland. In addition, several US military commands will be moved out of Germany, including the US Army V Corps overseas headquarters that will relocate to Poland next year.
Trump has long and loudly complained that Germany does not spend enough on defense and has repeatedly accused Germany of failing to pay NATO bills, which is a misstatement of the issue. NATO nations have pledged to dedicate 2% of their gross domestic product.
In addition, several US military commands will be moved out of Germany, including the US Army V Corps overseas headquarters that will relocate to Poland next year.
Saturday’s signing came just a day after the Trump administration suffered an embarrassing diplomatic loss at the United Nations when its proposal to indefinitely extend an arms embargo on Iran was soundly defeated in a UN Security Council vote that saw only one country side with the US. Pompeo will visit that country, the Dominican Republic, on Sunday for the inauguration of its new president.
Pompeo has used his Europe trip to warn the region’s young democracies about threats posed by Russia and China and has received a warm welcome. In Poland, the reception was particularly kind given the friendship between Trump and conservative Polish President Andrzej Duda, who was sworn in for a second five-year term earlier this month after a hotly contested election.
Many of Duda’s Law and Justice party’s policies have put Poland at odds with the European Union, which is concerned that government efforts to reshape the judiciary and other actions have eroded the rule of law and democracy in the EU member country.
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