MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 30th June, 2020) Deploying more US troops to Poland will inevitably further sour relations with Moscow, despite President Donald Trump concurrently expressing wish to “get along with Russia,” experts told Sputnik.
After last week’s joint briefing with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Washington, Trump said that Warsaw was willing to pay for the presence of additional US troops on its soil and that soldiers stationed in Germany would likely be moved to Poland. The announcement came after Trump pledged to halve the number of US troops in Germany to 25,000 over Berlin‘s backlog in NATO payments.
The US leader noted that the deployment of extra troops “sends a very strong signal to Moscow,” but remarked: “with all of that being said, we expect to get along with Russia; we expect to get along with everybody.”
On the hills of the announcement, the Russian Foreign Ministry told Sputnik that Moscow is closely following the US plans. Deputy Minister Alexander Grushko has not ruled out the United States may resort to violating the 1997 Russia-NATO Founding Act, which envisions the alliance‘s obligation to abstain from “additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces.”
Ahead of the Trump-Duda summit, the US ambassador in Warsaw told Polish media that her country would send another 1,000 troops to Poland, in addition to the 1,000 reinforcement declared last year. The US currently has 4,500 rotational troops in Poland.
YOU CAN’T HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT
“Obviously, increasing US troops in Poland will not be well-received in Moscow. President Trump make believe he can have his cake (adding US troops in Poland to appeal to Polish American voters and hawks) while eating it too (maintaining cordial relations with Russia) but these objectives are obviously in tension,” Michael C. Desch, professor of international relations at the University of Notre Dame and director of the Notre Dame International Security Center, told Sputnik.
Paul Poast, assistant professor at the University of Chicago‘s department of political science, agrees that sending more troops to NATO‘s eastern flank obviously cannot help dialogue between the West and Russia.
“As for how this will impact US-Russian relations, it can only hurt, not help. Despite the relatively small number, moving troops to Poland is still moving troops closer to Russia, rather than moving them out of Europe,” Poast said.
“Actions speak louder than words. By redeploying US troops to Poland, it seems that President Trump is not so trusting of Russia and its geopolitical motives as his public comments would suggest,” Thomas Whalen, an associate professor at Boston University’s social science department, told Sputnik.
Experts, however, have disagreed in their assessments of the potential US troop movement.
“Overall, most of these moves are symbolic. The vast majority of US troops in Europe will still be in Germany (over 20,000), while President Trump is only proposing moving another 1,000 troops to Poland,” Poast said.
Desch similarly prefers not overestimating the significance of the move and does not link the planned troop relocation from Germany to Poland with Berlin‘s support for Russia‘s Nord Stream 2 project, despite Washington‘s push to block it and send more LNG to Europe instead.
“I think that is imposing to much rationality on US strategy, which is pretty incoherent in my opinion,” the expert stated.
“Poland is willing to foot the bill for the added US troops. Germany is thus shut out of the process, which puts great pressure on the NATO alliance. In some respects, the transatlantic alliance is already at the breaking point. This new development does not help,” Whalen said.
At a press conference with Duda, Trump notably said that, though the US plan sends a “very strong” message to Moscow, “a stronger signal sent to Russia is the fact that Germany is paying Russia billions of Dollars to purchase energy from Russia, and � through the pipeline.” The American leader noted that it “doesn’t work too well,” because ‘they’re spending billions of dollars to buy Russian energy, and then we’re supposed to defend them from Russia.”
“So, that sends a signal right there,” he remarked.