Duda-Trump meeting: Brothers in arms not on parade in Moscow

Polish President Andrzej Duda and President Donald Trump met in the White House on Wednesday and discussed defence, trade, energy, cybersecurity and the pandemic. It was the first meeting with a foreign leader that has been hosted by the US President since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fifth official bilateral meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda.

At a press conference held after their meeting in the White House President Trump praised Poland again for meeting the two percent GDP spend on defence NATO target. Along with only seven other NATO member states. The US President was also satisfied that Poland was using “trusted suppliers” for its 5G development.

President Trump confirmed that the US was considering moving some troops from Germany to Poland. He confirmed that the reason for this was German disloyalty over energy links with Russia. He contrasted this with Poland’s diversification of its gas supplies.

The Polish head of state confirmed that there would be 1,000 more US troops being stationed in line with agreements already signed. He also confirmed that Poland would be interested in hosting more US troops. The reason for this need, according to President Duda, was Russian adventurism and expansionism in the region. However, he stressed the NATO view that it would not be a good development for the total of US troops in Europe to fall. He was referring to last week’s US announcement of the withdrawal of 9,500 US troops from Germany.

The US President promised that the two countries would develop a nuclear power plant in Poland in cooperation with each other. He thanked the Polish side for the medical help and cooperation during the pandemic that included a Polish team of military medical personnel sharing their experiences in Italy with their American counterparts in Chicago. The two presidents confirmed Poland and the US were cooperating over developing vaccines and drugs to combat the Coronavirus.

President Duda accentuated the importance of economic cooperation between the two countries, citing the import of LNG that will be able to be expanded thanks to the construction of a second gasport in Gdańsk. The Polish President felt that the military cooperation between Poland and the US was helping Poland to attract major investors such as Microsoft and Google. “Security means more jobs and investment”, said President Duda.

The Polish President thanked President Trump for the fact that the statue of Tadeusz Kościuszko was renovated quickly after being damaged during the BLM protests.

Asked about the fact that on the same day the Russians held a remembrance parade for the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII President Duda replied that “he was representing Polish interests and not parading in Moscow.”

Comment:

Careful observers of the international scene may notice that this is the second time President Trump has invited a leader of an allied country to the White House just days before an election in that allied state. This was the case with Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of a general election in Israel.

The fact that this visit took place indicates that in Europe Poland is today considered to be a primary strategic ally of the US. The two see eye to eye on NATO spending, the Russian military threat, and the need for Europe not to be dependent on Russian energy. In addition, the US seems to see Poland as an important country in Europe for preventing a German-Russian rapprochement which could dominate Central and Eastern Europe and push the US out of the region.

The meeting took place on the same day as the Russian President Vladimir Putin held a military parade in Moscow to celebrate the 75 anniversary of the end of WWII. Only the Presidents of some post-Soviet republics and Serbia attended that event. The Trump-Duda will have gone down in Moscow like a cold cup of sick.

It may also not have been music to German ears, with some commentators arguing that Mr Duda was being played against Chancellor Angela Merke. But Poland does not want any conflict with Germany, nor is it seeking to participate in nuclear sharing at this stage. But it wants to see more US troops on its soil and for the eastern flank of NATO’s to be generally strengthened.


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