Poland asks Trump to establish military base on Russian border to deter Moscow

'Russia's strategy under President Putin is to openly disrupt and change the European security structure'

US troops already carry out exercises in Poland and the Baltic states under the Nato umbrella
US troops already carry out exercises in Poland and the Baltic states under the Nato umbrella

Poland has asked Donald Trump to set up a permanent military base in the country to shore up its defences against Russia - a step that would anger Moscow if it went ahead.

The Polish government has offered to pay $2bn (£1.5bn) to establish the joint armoured division, which would have 15,000 US troops and 250 tanks and armoured vehicles.

A written proposal from the Polish defence ministry that was sent to Washington focuses on the words of President Trump, who last year warned in Warsaw of “dire threats to our security and to our way of life”. Mr Trump added: “We will confront them ... we will win.”

The Polish paper states: "A permanent presence of a US armoured division in Poland will help achieve that goal.

"Establishing such a force is necessary to present an unequivocal challenge and deterrence to Russia's increasingly emboldened and dangerous posture that threatens Europe."

Moscow would consider the establishment of such a force in Poland a breach of the 1997 Nato Russia Founding Act, through which Nato agreed not to deploy permanent forces in eastern Europe.

Discussions between the Polish defence ministry and the Pentagon have already begun. Mariusz Blaszczak, the Polish defence minister, revealed he had recently held talks in Washington about having US troops in the country.

And the US Senate Armed Services Committee has already asked James Mattis, the defence secretary, to assess the cost of permanently stationing American troops there.

Coming just over a month before Nato leaders gather in Brussels for a summit, the proposal warns of Moscow's expansion ambitions. "Russia's strategy under President Putin is to openly disrupt and change the European security structure and decrease the level of US leadership and involvement throughout the continent to weaken the transatlantic alliance," it says.

"Permanent US troops in Poland will send a clear message to Russia of US support for its eastern European allies."

The documents, obtained by Polish news site Onet, reportedly contain information on possible deployment of military facilities and hospitals as well as schools and gyms for staff and their families.

In a sign of growing discord within the Polish government, the defence ministry confirmed that the proposal was sent to Washington without the knowledge of the president, Andrzej Duda, according to some reports.

Mr Trump said last year: “A strong Poland is a blessing to the nations of Europe, and they know that. A strong Europe is a blessing to the West and to the world. One hundred years after the entry of American forces into World War One, the transatlantic bond between the United States and Europe is as strong as ever and maybe, in many ways, even stronger.”

Poland currently hosts US armed forces as part of Nato units that are stationed there on a rotational basis, moving between that country and Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Since joining Nato in 1999, Warsaw has wanted to build closer security relations with the US.

Polish officials believe the plan for a US military base has become more urgent following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014, and rising aggression towards Nato.

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