Poland offers $2bn for permanent US base, Moscow warns of ‘dangerous’ consequences

Poland offers $2bn for permanent US base, Moscow warns of ‘dangerous’ consequences
Poland is reportedly willing to pay $2bn for permanent presence of US troops in the country. Moscow called the initiative “dangerous”, saying it won’t benefit European security.

The document dubbed ‘Proposal for a US Permanent Presence in Poland’ by the country’s Defense Ministry was leaked online by local media and Politico Europe group at the weekend.

The 39-page document discusses how “extraordinarily strong” Poland-US relations throughout history have been: how Polish people were “remarkably pro-Western” during the Cold war, how they fought against communism and disliked the Soviet Union.

To prove the point, the ministry draws examples of Donald Trumps’ statements, in particular his “landmark” Warsaw address, calling to confront “dire threats to our security.” “A permanent presence of a US armored division in Poland – on dedicated US military installations – will help achieve that goal [set by Trump],” the document reads.

The main aim Warsaw lists for having such a force on its soil is “unequivocal challenge and deterrence to Russia’s increasingly emboldened and dangerous posture” in Europe. It assumes that permanent US troops in Poland “will send a clear message” to Russia of US support for its Eastern European allies.

Poland is willing to pay as much as $2bn for the “message”, which is one fifth of country’s defense expenditure ($10 bn) in 2017, according to NATO estimates. 

By paying this money Warsaw hopes it “can build an even stronger bond” with the US which will guarantee “the safety, security and freedom of its people”. The documents, leaked about a month ahead of NATO summit in Brussels, contain detailed maps of various locations where Warsaw is ready to host US troops.

The report eventually concludes that cities of Bydgoszcz and Torun in the heart of the country would be the “ideal location for the establishment of a permanent U.S. presence in Poland.”

Last week US Senate called upon Defense Secretary Jim Mattis “to report on the feasibility and advisability of permanently stationing” US forces on Polish soil. Poland welcomed the news “with joy and hope”. 

Hosting permanent US troops on Polish soil “would not improve security and stability in Europe,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “Of course, it is a sovereign decision of any country, but the consequences for the general atmosphere on the continent are obvious,” he added.

Warsaw’s proposal is a “dangerous initiative,” deputy chairman of Russia's upper-house foreign affairs committee, Vladimir Dzhabarov said. “The deployment of NATO's permanent base makes Poland one of the main targets in case of a possible conflict. Hosting [such a] base, Poland becomes the object of a retaliatory strike,” he told Russian RBK.

NATO has been beefing up its presence in eastern Europe and the Baltic states in recent times, with Moscow regularly portrayed as a boogeyman who needs to be warded off. In March this year Poland signed a $4.75 billion deal to purchase US air-defense Patriot missile systems, claiming it wants to have “friendly relations” with its neighbors. Moscow has repeatedly stated that by boosting Western missile defenses on Russia’s doorstep, NATO risks undermining regional security.

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