NATO

Trump: why is US president moving troops from Germany to Poland?

Donald Trump has said the US will be looking to expand its military presence in Poland by pulling forces from Germany amid a dispute over NATO funding.

Trump: why is US president moving troops from Germany to Poland?
CARLOS BARRIA REUTERS

Donald Trump on Wednesday welcomed his first state visitor to the White House since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in the USA, Polish President Andrzej Duda, and suggested that the movement of US military personnel from Germany to Poland would send a “strong message” to Russia. The US president is facing backlash from all quarters as Covid-19 cases spike across the country but found time to reignite a long-running dispute with NATO allies over funding.

Describing Poland as “one of only eight NATO members that are current with the money that they’re supposed to be paying” in a joint press conference at the White House, Trump said the US would be looking towards increasing its military presence in the central European country by withdrawing troops from Germany, who he has previously accused along with other NATO members of not meeting their end of the joint alliance agreement. In 2019, the US picked up 22 percent of NATO’s spending and the US president has made repeated threats to reduce that share of the bill if other countries fail to meet their end of a 2014 agreement to spend two percent of their annual GDP on defence budgets. However, Germany is the second-largest contributor to NATO by a significant margin.

At a NATO summit in Brussels in 2018, Trump sent shockwaves through the alliance by suggesting that the US could “go its own way” if other members did not increase their contributions, having previously suggested Germany is “totally controlled” by Russia after the two countries reached an agreement over the €9.5 billion Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.

According to the US Department of Defense there were 34,674 US military personnel stationed in Germany in March but the US has capacity for 52,000 troops in the country. Trump has stated that he plans to reduce that number to 25,000 and Poland has emerged as a likely destination for that redeployment.

Trump: "We'll probably be moving them from Germany to Poland"

Poland's President Andrzej Duda arrives for a joint news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump.

"Last year we signed two joint declarations to increase our security collaboration, and we look forward to signing a defense cooperation agreement," Trump said on Wednesday.

Duda, on his third visit to the White House since Trump took office, welcomed the new agreement as very important to European security and to Poland's security in particular. He said there was a possibility more US troops would be sent to Poland than agreed on previously.

"Today we are entering another stage, namely there is a possibility of further increase in American troops in our country," Duda said.

Trump said Poland had asked for additional troops. "They're going to pay for that ... for the sending of additional troops and we'll probably be moving them from Germany to Poland," he said.

Asked if he was trying to send a signal to Russia with the move, Trump said, "I think it sends a very strong signal to Russia."