Trump announces 1,000 extra troops for Poland
Washington DC: US President Donald Trump has announced he will send 1,000 more troops to Poland to counter Russia, while criticising Germany for making itself a "hostage" to Moscow by over-relying on Russian energy supplies. Details of the troop boost were thin but they fell far short of Poland's long-running hope for a permanent major US military base.
About 5,000 US soldiers already deploy along with NATO forces in Poland as part of a rotating pool, rather than a fixed garrison. At a joint press conference with his visiting Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda, Trump said an additional 1,000 troops would be sent.
Trump said Wednesday the US troops would be moved to Poland from fellow NATO-member Germany and that Poland was building facilities to accommodate them.
The number was half the amount Trump had flagged less than three hours earlier while meeting in the Oval Office with Duda, where he said "they're talking about 2,000 troops."
Trump poured cold water on his Polish allies' hopes for a full-blown permanent US facility -- something that would irritate the Kremlin and almost certainly prompt a Russian response.
"I don't talk about permanence or not permanence," Trump said. Duda was diplomatic when asked at the press conference how many US troops he'd like to see, saying "it's always up to the United States." "He'd like to see 250,000 troops," Trump quipped.
Trump said Poland was ordering more than 30 F-35 combat aircraft. In a highly unusual presidential airshow, one of the advanced warplanes roared over the White House during Duda's visit, prompting the visiting Polish leader to wave in delight.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the US announcement, tweeting that the extra troops show "the strong commitment of the US to European security & the strength of the transatlantic bond." On a separate issue at the heart of European-Russia tensions, Trump criticized Germany for what he said was over-reliance on Moscow for energy supplies.