Trump says US considering permanent military presence in Poland

US President Donald Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda (left) speak to the media in the Oval office.
US President Donald Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda (left) speak to the media in the Oval office.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - President Donald Trump said on Tuesday (Sept 18) the United States is considering a request from Poland for a permanent US military presence in the fellow Nato country, acknowledging that he shares Poland's concerns about possible Russian aggression.

Poland has repeatedly requested a permanent US military presence on its soil to counter Russia, offering up to US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion) in funding for such a base.

The United States currently rotates troops through Poland temporarily but permanently stationing forces there would be expensive given costs that can include housing for families, schools and hospitals.

Russia expressed concern in May over reports about Poland's request, saying Nato's expansion towards Russia's borders undermined stability in Europe.

Polish President Andrzej Duda made a direct appeal to Trump for a permanent US base, telling a joint news conference with the American president that he would name the base "Fort Trump," and that it would serve as a bulwark against what he considers a threat from Moscow.

Trump said he shared Duda's concern about Russia but that Russia respects strength and that the United States has strengthened its military under his leadership.

"I am with the president. I feel that he is right," he said.

Meeting Duda earlier in the Oval Office, Trump said Poland's request was under consideration.

"We're looking at it very seriously, I know Poland likes the idea very much, and it's something that we are considering, yes," he said.

Poland joined Nato in 1999 along with Hungary and the Czech Republic, and since then other former communist states, including Baltic republics bordering Russia, have joined despite Moscow's strong opposition.

Warsaw could offer up to US$2 billion in funding for a US military base, according to a Polish Defense Ministry proposal reported by Polish media. A government source in Poland confirmed to Reuters that such a proposal had been made.

Trump also said the United States was considering a visa waiver program for Poland.