Trump: US considering permanent military base in Poland, visa waiver

Polish President Andrzej Duda (L) and US President Donald Trump (R) shaking hands. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday Washington is considering a request for a permanent military presence in Poland as well as a visa waiver program for the country.

"Poland is willing to make a very major contribution to the United States to come in and have a presence in Poland, and certainly it's something we'll discuss," Mr Trump said at the White House before a meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda.

"We're looking at it very seriously, I know Poland likes the idea very much, and it's something that we are considering, yes," he said.

In May, Polish media reported that Warsaw had offered up to USD 2 bn in funding for such a military presence, a move which has angered Moscow. During the joint news conference on Tuesday Mr Trump said President Duda had proposed billions of dollars for a permanent US military base in Poland.

President Duda said a permanent US presence in Poland would be the only guarantee of security against Russian aggression.

In the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, NATO deployed four battalions in the Baltics and Poland, backed up by US troops and equipment on rotation. There are about 5,000 US troops stationed in Poland.

Poland joined NATO in 1999 along with Hungary and the Czech Republic, and since then other former communist states, including the Baltic republics bordering Russia, have joined despite Moscow’s strong opposition.

Energy Security and Russia

Poland and the US signed an agreement to further consolidate their cooperation in energy security and oppose energy projects threatening common security, like Nord Stream 2.

“The construction of the Russia-Germany Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is currently the biggest threat to Europe's energy security as it undermines the continent's energy stability through Russia's domination of the gas market,” President Duda said.

Russia’s Gazprom, together with a consortium of western companies, are due to build Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline planned to run from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea, which would double Russia’s gas export capacity. Eastern European countries, Baltic states and the US oppose the pipeline contending that it could undermine Europe’s energy security.

The agreement also reiterated both countries' commitment to common values and democratic principles, including freedom, independent institutions and human rights.