President TrumpDonald John Trump: Trump rally triggers quarantine of dozens of Republican Secret Service agents: Trump needs new plan Trump faces ObamaCare court deadline as political terrain changes MORE He said on Wednesday, after a meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda at the White House, that the United States will likely move some of the troops moving from Germany to Poland.
“They will pay for the shipment of additional troops, and we will probably transfer them from Germany to Poland,” Trump told reporters at a joint press conference with Duda in the Rose Garden. “We are going to reduce Germany very substantially to about 25,000 soldiers.”
Trump’s comments essentially confirmed speculation that the administration would move some of the troops it plans to withdraw from Germany to Poland, though it offered no further details beyond saying it was a probability.
“We are going to reduce our forces in Germany. Some will go home and others will go elsewhere. But Poland would be one of those other places, other places in Europe, “Trump said.
The president abruptly announced earlier this month that he planned to reduce the permanent presence of US troops in Germany from 34,500 to 25,000.
Trump has regularly criticized Berlin for failing to meet NATO’s stated goal of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense, a failure he emphasized on Wednesday.
“Germany is paying a very small fraction of what they are supposed to pay,” Trump said, accusing Berlin of “tremendous crime.”
In an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal published Monday, Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien said troops withdrawing from Germany could move to “other countries in Europe”, redeploying in the Indo-Pacific or return to bases in the United States. O’Brien also acknowledged that the details of the plan were still being developed.
Trump has faced setback, even from some Republicans, over his plans to reduce the United States’ presence in Germany, which critics say would weaken NATO’s ability to counter Russian aggression.
Trump insisted on Wednesday that his movements send a “strong signal” to Moscow, before criticizing Germany for its dependence on Russian natural gas exports.
In his own comments, Duda said that ultimately it was up to Trump to send troops to Poland, but that he would be “ready” to accept a greater US presence. Duda also emphasized the need to keep American troops in Europe.
“I would not dare tell the President of the United States of America where he should send his soldiers. This is the decision that the United States always makes, and this is a very responsible decision, “Duda told reporters.” However, I do not deny that I requested, Mr. President, not to withdraw US forces from Europe because the security of Europe is very important to me. “
Charles Kupchan, who served on the National Security Council under former President Obama, said sending some forces to Poland would “marginally” compensate for the withdrawal of troops from Germany while affirming that the decision to reduce the US presence in Germany suggested a “downgrade” in America’s commitment to European defense. Kupchan also noted that it is difficult to measure the full impact of the plans since they are still being developed.
“Putting one or two thousand more soldiers in Poland says we care about the eastern flank, but when we compare it to the general disappearance of, say, 8,000 soldiers in Europe, it is a net loss,” Kupchan said.
Wednesday’s meeting marked the first visit by a foreign head of state to the White House amid the coronavirus pandemic since March 12. Trump and Duda said a wide range of issues were discussed, including efforts to tackle the new coronavirus, defense cooperation and energy security.
Still, the meeting fell short of concrete results, such as a final defense agreement that has been under deliberation since Trump and Duda announced plans to bring 1,000 US troops to Poland last year.
Duda, a conservative nationalist, is facing a surprisingly tight re-election battle in just four days.
The proximity of his trip to the White House to the election led some to criticize Trump for apparently trying to tip the balance in favor of a foreign leader he sees as a personal ally. US presidents have generally avoided meetings with their foreign counterparts within a month of facing an election, although Trump has not adhered to tradition.
Trump offered praise to Duda during the press conference, congratulating him on doing an “excellent job” and predicting that he would win reelection.
“I don’t think he needs my help,” Trump said, adding that he had the honor of attending the meeting. “It will go well with or without us. He is going to be very successful. ”
Duda told reporters that the pandemic disrupted plans for the two leaders to meet and that they had agreed to meet “as soon as possible,” expressing thanks to Trump for inviting him to Washington.
Trump has established a personal bond with Duda about his presidency since meeting the leader in Warsaw in 2017. He has now hosted him three times at the White House, including about a year ago at a meeting marked by a complex F overpass -35.