- "They will be paying for the sending of additional troops, and we will probably be moving them from Germany to Poland," Trump said.
- The meeting comes a few days before Polish voters decide whether or not to re-elect the current president, Duda, for a second term.
- Trump also faces a tough reelection battle, trailing badly in early polling.
The United States will transfer troops from Germany to Poland, US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday at the White House, during a meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda. The announcement comes four days before presidential elections in Poland, and was criticized by Democrats.
“They asked us if we would send some additional troops,” Trump said. “They will be paying for the sending of additional troops, and we will probably be moving them from Germany to Poland,” he added.
“We‘re going to reduce our forces in Germany. Some return home and others will go elsewhere, but Poland would be one of those places in Europe,” he declared.
Trump, who has long censured Germany for not contributing enough to cover NATO’s military spending, had announced last week his intention to decrease the number of American soldiers deployed on German territory, from a maximum of 52,000 to 25,000.
Since that announcement, there was speculation that some of these soldiers would be transferred to Poland after Warsaw insistently demanded an increase in United States military aid.
In the gardens of the White House, the Polish president said on Wednesday that he would not dare tell the American president where to send his soldiers, but admitted that he had asked that he do not withdraw American troops from Europe to preserve the continent’s security.
The meeting comes a few days before Polish voters decide whether or not to re-elect the current president, Duda, for a second term. Duda’s opponents, in a quick rejoinder, criticized the meeting, alleging that it was an attempt by him to gain momentum ahead of the vote on Sunday.
During the meeting, Trump immensely praised his guest Duda. “President Duda is doing very well in Poland,” Mr Trump said following the third Oval Office meeting between the two men. “He’s doing a terrific job.”
In response to the opposition criticism of Duda, Trump opined, “the people of Poland think the world of him.” Trump added, “I don’t think he needs my help.”
President Duda’s political group, supported by the ruling party, Law and Justice, leads the polls before Poland’s election, but Europhile opposition candidate Rafal Trzaskowski has gained much ground in recent surveys.
Trump also faces a tough reelection battle, with several criticisms about how he handled the pandemic, and amid a national call for racial justice. In a poll by The New York Times and Siena College released on Wednesday, his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, was ahead by 14 points among voters polled.
In the Trump-Duda talks, the main objective of the Polish side is to obtain greater military assistance from the United States, a constant demand from Warsaw, mainly since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. Asked about the message this action was sending to Russia, Trump said: “I think it sends a very strong signal.”
The President of the United States did not provide figures on how many soldiers would be transferred from Germany to Poland however. In an apparent justification of his move, Trump repeated his frequent accusation that Berlin does not make a fair contribution to NATO’s defense budget.