The United States and Poland have signed a landmark defense agreement on Saturday aimed at increasing U.S. troop presence in the country. Under the agreement, a thousand U.S. troops in Germany will be moved to Poland, raising their total strength to 5,500. The deal was inked by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak in Warsaw.

According to the agreement, the headquarters of the US Army V Corps will also move from Germany to Poland. The deal “grants the US access to Polish military installations and allows for the modernization of existing facilities and capabilities in Poland,” the German broadcaster DW News reported.

The move comes after U.S. President Donald Trump last month announced the withdrawal of close to 12,000 troops from Germany. The withdrawal has angered many in Berlin, with German politicians and the mainstream media criticizing President Trump’s decision.

The Polish public broadcaster Radio Poland reported the signing of the deal:

The new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was inked by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a visit to Warsaw.

The deal was long sought by Poland, a staunch US military ally fearful of Russia. Around 4,500 American troops are already stationed in Poland on a rotating basis.

The agreement was signed at the presidential palace in Warsaw by Pompeo and Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak.

The deal also means that Poland will host the “forward elements” of the U.S. Army’s V Corps headquarters, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said earlier this month, announcing that Warsaw and Washington had completed negotiations on the cooperation agreement.

The American soldiers in Poland and their base will be excluded from Polish jurisdiction, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

President Andrzej Duda said on Saturday: “Not only will there be more US Army soldiers, not only will there be more American infrastructure in our country, but there will also be a stronger guarantee that our soldiers will stand shoulder to shoulder in the face of any danger, whether it threatens Poland or the US.”

The massive troop withdrawal from Germany, cutting U.S. military presence there by a third, is in response of Berlin’s repeated defaulting on the pledge to pay its fair share to the NATO defense budget, leaving the U.S. taxpayers to shoulder the burden.

“Theyre there to protect Europe. They’re there to protect Germany, right?” President Trump asked as he announced the troop withdrawal on July 30. “Germany’s not paying for it. We don’t want to be the suckers any more. The United States has been taken advantage of for 25 years, both on trade and on the military. So we’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bills.”

The defense agreement was signed as Poland marks the 100th anniversary of its victory over the Soviet Army in the Battle of Warsaw. Event were held across the country to mark the defeat of Russian Bolsheviks at the gates of Warsaw in 1920.

The anniversary highlights the geographic vulnerabilities faced by Poland. In recent years, Warsaw has been alarmed at the German-Russian rapprochement symbolized by the 745-mile Nord Stream pipeline that will carry natural gas from Russian fields to European supply networks.

With the Baltic Sea gas pipeline, or Nord Stream 2 as the project is known, Berlin is practically inviting Moscow to become a major player in European energy sector. The increased dependence on Vladimir Putin’s Russia will open up Europe to Moscow’s influence. Putin’s lucrative pipeline project has the backing of the German establishment. Angela Merkel’s predecessor and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has headed the $11 billion pipeline project. The pipeline is scheduled to be launched on October 1, 2022.

Poland has been among the most vocal critics of the pipeline. Polish President Andrzej Duda has repeatedly urged Germany to abandon the project that makes Europe dependent on Russia. German and Russian “jointly want to tighten the noose around our neck with the help of Nord Stream [pipeline],” former Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz noted in 2018. “They want to strangle both Poland and Central Europe, and forever make them dependent on their own economic and political power,” he cautioned.

President Trump agrees with the Polish assessment. German is “a captive to Russia” over the gas pipeline, he warned the Western allies at the 2018 NATO summit. “We’re supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia,” he reminded the allies at that time.

Pompeo: U.S. to increase troop presence in Poland

 

 
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