WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that the United States will station 1,000 troops in Poland as the European nation looks to bolster its defenses against Russia.
Trump, appearing with Polish President Andrzej Duda at the White House, said the United States will relocate American troops from Germany and other European military installations as part of a joint agreement signed between the two leaders on Wednesday.
Poland, which has long lobbied the United States for an increased military presence, has agreed to shoulder the costs tied to the surge in troops, including building a new U.S. military base that Duda has jokingly dubbed “Fort Trump.”
“Poland wants to build a great military facility for the United States. They’ll build it. They’re going to spend money,” Trump told reporters before a closed-door meeting with Duda.
The United States currently deploys some 4,000 troops to Poland, a move that came in response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, but the troops rotate in and out of the country, prompting Polish leaders to push the Trump administration for a more steady presence.
Russia’s actions in Ukraine, which borders Poland to the east, have led Poland and other smaller eastern European nations, including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, to plead for an increased presence from the United States and other NATO allies.
“Russia is always looking out to take our territory,” Duda said in a Rose Garden news conference alongside Trump.
Asked by a U.S. reporter whether Poland views Russia as a friend or a foe, Duda said Russia has been “showing its very unkind, imperial face … we do not want to be part of Russia's sphere of influence.”
Trump, when asked if he viewed Russia as a threat to Poland responded: “I hope not.”
“I hope that Russia and Poland and Germany and everybody is going to get along. That’s what I want. I want everybody to get along,” said Trump, who has often come under criticism for his public praise of Russian President Vladmir Putin.
Russian officials have previously warned the United States against establishing a military base in Poland. In December, Frants Klintsevic, a member of Russia’s parliament, said, according to Russian state media: “If a facility is really created on Polish territory, it will immediately become a target for a strike. These are the rules of the war.”.
Trump did not respond to questions seeking details about the proposed site for the new base or a time frame for deploying the troops. Though the agreement signed on Wednesday calls for 1,000 U.S. troops, Trump also floated the possibility of sending up to 2,000 American forces.