America will station around 1,000 extra troops in Poland, a staunch military ally fearful of Russia, under a declaration signed by the Polish and US presidents on Wednesday.
After meeting the Polish head of state, Andrzej Duda, during an official visit to Washington, US leader Donald Trump announced closer military and economic cooperation with Warsaw, hailing the dawn of an “exciting new era in the US-Polish alliance.”
The presidents’ declaration said that the American military presence in Poland would be stepped up “in the near future,” Polish state news agency PAP reported. The agency added that the United States currently has around 4,500 rotating troops in Poland.
Trump told reporters: “The Polish government will build these projects at no cost to the United States.”
Amid fears of Russian aggression, the authorities in Warsaw have been making intense efforts to secure boosted US troop numbers in Poland, which lies on the eastern flank of NATO.
The declaration signed by the two presidents on Wednesday included plans to set up an American divisional command in Poland responsible for US forces on the eastern flank of the Western military alliance, Polish Radio reported.
The state broadcaster added that a logistics base would also be created, along with units supporting special forces and the air force, as well as modern centres for training NATO troops.
Duda said on Wednesday that military cooperation between Poland and the United States would gradually increase.
Very special alliance'
At a joint press conference with the Polish president on Wednesday, Trump hailed America’s “very special alliance” with Poland.
He said: “We usher in a very exciting new era in the US-Polish alliance. It’s a very special alliance with very special people.”
The US leader added: “Our relationship is an extraordinary one and it’s going to remain that for a long, long time.”
Trump also said that economic relations between the United States and Poland were thriving.
“Across many critical areas from defence and diplomacy to energy and economics, the alliance between the US and Poland is reaching extraordinary new heights in 2019,” he added.
Following Moscow's annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014, NATO decided at a Warsaw summit in July 2016 to deploy four rotating multinational battalions to Poland and the Baltic states.
Distrustful of Russia, its giant neighbour to the east, Poland has in recent months been engaged in a flurry of diplomatic activity aiming to secure more US troops, a move it sees as a vital security guarantee.