Negotiations on the construction of “Fort Trump” failed due to disagreements over the financing and location of the future military base.
A grand plan, according to which an American military base was to appear on the territory of Poland, seems to have failed, several sources told Reuters: the parties could not agree on funding and the location of the garrison.
A US administration official familiar with the situation says the idea was doomed to fail from the start: “There will be no fort Trump,” the source says.
In June 2019, the presidents of the United States and Poland agreed to send an additional 1,000 American troops to Poland to strengthen NATO’s defense against Russia and to improve bilateral ties. The project to create a US military base in Poland was informally named “Fort Trump” in honor of the current US President, who supported this idea.
However, the idea of building a base was eventually rejected. Representatives of Washington and Warsaw say that the governments of both countries have not been able to agree on where American military personnel should be stationed, as well as on how much Warsaw should pay for the construction of the base.
The Polish authorities wanted to deploy the US military near the Eastern border with Belarus, which is an ally of Russia. However, this step would undoubtedly have displeased Moscow, and therefore Washington insisted on placing the base in the West of Poland.
Initially, Warsaw planned to allocate $ 2 billion for the creation of the base. Still, now such funding is not under the power of the country’s budget, exhausted by the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. However, the US initially wanted Warsaw to invest more in this expensive project.
Also, another point of contention was the legal status of the US military based in Poland. Currently, about 4,500 US soldiers serving in the country on a rotation basis. Washington wanted to increase the legal immunity of its military, which is necessary for a situation when an American serviceman is accused of committing a crime on the territory of Poland. Warsaw did not agree to this demand.
Very complex process
Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski, in an interview with Reuters, calls it “a complicated process.”
“There are issues of Finance, accommodation, legal rights, the principles according to which the military will be here to act,” says Jablonski.
“Discussions take a long time because the substance of the issue is very complex. I think we will make a final decision, but it will still take some time.”
Last week, a senior us administration official said that Trump had decided to withdraw 9,500 of the 34,500 US troops currently stationed in Germany.
US officials said that some of these troops could be sent to Poland, whose authorities were concerned that the interests of Germany, a neighbor, and NATO ally that is a critical element of Poland’s security plan would be affected as a result of such a transfer of forces.
“In General, any withdrawal of military forces from Europe is a risk, and we, the Polish government, do not view this decision positively, because we believe that the American presence [on the continent] should increase,” Jablonski says.
Some of the US military personnel currently stationed in Poland were sent to the country after Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
When Vice President Mike Pence visited Warsaw in 2019, six possible locations for the future base were discussed during his talks with the country’s authorities.
The high-level talks, which were planned to discuss controversial issues, were scheduled for March. However, the talks were canceled after us Deputy Defense Minister John Rood left his post at Trump’s insistence, a source in Washington says.