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US military base in Poland: Trump spits in the face of Europe

Author : Georgiy Kuhaleyshvili

Polish president Andrzej Duda suggested informally calling the American base "Fort Trump"
10:00, 1 October 2018

AP photo

The US considers establishing a new military base in Poland. Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak, Polish-American working group has already been created in the framework of an agreement with the Pentagon. In his opinion, Poland has enough places where the US military could deploy. The constant presence of a brigade of the US military (about 3.2 thousand people) is being considered. US President Donald Trump and his Polish colleague Andrzej Duda during a recent meeting in the White House have already told about it. Then the Polish president, not without irony, suggested informally calling the American base "Fort Trump" and expressed the intention to allocate $ 2 billion from the state budget for its arrangement. The issue of creating a military base in Poland has coincided with the annual 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, during which Trump and Duda have voiced rather tough statements concerning Europe, where 62 thousand American troops are located.

Related: Trump considers permanent U.S. military presence in Poland

The American president claimed that Germany would become completely dependent on Russia’s energy supplies unless it changes the course. Duda noted that Europe would not be fair and safe without sovereign Poland, and each country has the right to independence, which it cannot be deprived of. The Polish president expressed his concern about Russia’s deployment of Iskander operational and tactical complexes near Polish borders in the Kaliningrad region (Russia) and violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Duda also stressed that weak countries should receive some additional opportunities to gain equality. It seems that the leader of Poland has cited arguments for the permanent presence of the US military in his country. However, the Russian threat is just an excuse for creating a new US military base in Poland; given that there are 35,000 American troops and 36 US Army military bases are stationed in neighboring Germany. The military base in Poland is a political gesture of Trump, loogie in the face of old Europe, which for a number of issues has moved away from the fairway of US foreign policy.

The Russian-Iranian Factor

During the session of the UN General Assembly, Trump has decimated the gas relations issue between Russia and Germany. The American Republicans have the impression that a number of EU member states have dumped the solidarity with the US on foreign policy issues for Russian natural gas and Iranian oil. During the Cold War, America and Europe as NATO partners have been adhering to a common line in the international relations. Europe was the lead player and perceived the United States as a counterweight to the Soviet Union. The iron curtain fell. The times have changed. Despite the aggression in Ukraine and Georgia, Russia is not perceived by a number of Western countries, including Germany, as a real threat to their security. They pragmatically treat Russia as a business partner, a sales market and a raw materials base and are ready not to pay attention to the Kremlin’s geopolitical ambitions in the post-Soviet space. This explains why European countries combine participation in anti-Russian sanctions with cooperation with Moscow in the gas sector.

Related: Trump isn't interested in Ukraine, - ex-State Secretary of U.S.

The US does not share the modern realities of the EU energy policy. The share of Russian natural gas is 34% in the EU blue-fuel market. Last year, Russian Gazprom supplied to Europe 193.9 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom Alexander Medvedev believes that in 2018, natural gas supplies to European countries might reach 200 billion cubic meters. Most of the Russian gas is purchased by Germany, which is interested in the implementation of the Russian gas pipeline project Nord Stream - 2 and in increasing the transit of natural gas from Russia through its territory. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who, while supporting the diversification of energy supply routes to Europe, is fairly lenient towards Nord Stream-2, believing that this is not a question of the alliance, but a decision of individual countries, regardless of which there is unity among all the participants.

Americans cannot make Europeans more actively replace blue fuel from Russia with American liquefied natural gas. The US share in the European market of liquefied gas is only 4%, while the main suppliers of this fuel to the EU remain Qatar, Nigeria, and Algeria. In 2017, EU member countries, including Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, Portugal, Holland, Greece, Lithuania, Poland, have purchased 40.9 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas. Trump is interested in Europeans importing more natural gas from the US and discussed this issue with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in July 2018. Junker promised to build 14 terminals for receiving tankers with liquefied gas. However, Nord Stream-2 calls into question the feasibility of this initiative.

According to the CEO of the Austrian oil and gas company OMV (involved in the implementation of Nord Stream-2) Rainer Seele, Russian pipeline gas costs Europe 50% cheaper than American liquefied natural gas. In addition, in December of last year, Russia has supplied the first tanker with liquefied natural gas to the EU from the plant in Yamal.

Related: Trump signs decree on increasing sanction pressure on Russia

The fire of the American-European contradictions was fueled by the fact that the EU does not support the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran and the restoration of sanctions against the Islamic republic. The US wants to use sanctions to get Iran to end the missile program and sponsor terrorist organizations in the Middle East. Since November, the US plans to impose sanctions on the oil and gas and financial sector of Iran, as well as countries that will continue to trade with Iranian counterparts. Sanctions are not beneficial to the EU. Iran supplies 20% of the exported oil to the EU, which is the second largest trading partner of the Middle East after China. In 2016-17 years, the trade turnover between the EU and Iran grew from 258 million to 21 billion dollars. The EU shares the position of Russia and China concerning the Iranian issue, that they support preserving the nuclear deal.

If you look at things from the position of the American Republicans, then the EU trades with the key geopolitical enemy of the United States in the Middle East. The US patience was poured over by the offer of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, who suggested creating a new payment system without US participation, which would allow transactions with Iranian companies to be circumvented by the American sanctions. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US National Security Adviser John Bolton criticized this idea. Shortly thereafter, a working group was set up in Poland to create an American military base. The Pentagon makes it clear to Germany and other supporters of energy cooperation with Russia and Iran that it would reconsider its priorities in Europe and would pay less attention to strengthening the defensive capacity of those countries that buy Russian natural gas and Iranian oil and do not support the US on the international arena.

Related: Trump accuses Syria of shooting down Russian IL-20

Security payment

Trump is puzzled that the US is spending large sums of money to maintain security in Europe, but European countries continue to replenish the treasury of Russia and Iran by acquiring gas and oil from them. In 2017, the US spent $ 3.4 billion on a military presence in Europe as part of the European Deterrence Initiative. The United States intensifies cooperation with countries such as Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, which want to reduce energy dependence on Russia. Unlike Germany, Poland is interested in increasing the volume of imports of American liquefied gas. The intention of President Duda to invest in the creation of the base Americans can present as an example to other NATO member countries that it is necessary to increase defense spending. Most of the NATO member countries, including Germany, France, the Benelux countries, spend less than 2% of GDP on defense, which causes discontent among the Republicans.

On the example of Poland, Trump demonstrates the intention to protect those countries that share US foreign policy priorities. He lets European partners in NATO understand that if they do not go in the wake of US foreign policy and increase defense spending, then the Pentagon will sooner or later stop guaranteeing their security. First of all, this concerns Germany, which since the end of World War II remains a bastion of the US military in Europe, a foothold and a trans-shipment point for military operations in the Middle East and Africa. Developed military bases are concentrated in Germany, including the large Ramstein airbase, the European Command of the US in Stuttgart.

Related: U.S. not impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2, - Trump

After the US withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the EU no longer needs to rely on the US to ensure security. Say, the Germans are doing a great favor to the United States, providing their territory for military bases, and if necessary, they are ready to stand up for themselves. Trump forces the German Chancellor to answer for his words and demonstrates on the example of Poland the readiness to transfer the American military from Germany to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. During the Cold War, the Northern Group of the Soviet Union, troops numbered 300 thousand people on the territory of the Polish regions of Silesia and Pomerania. The Soviet military had their warehouses, military units, and other infrastructure. The only question is that there is no vital need for the constant presence of the US military in Poland. If necessary, they can be transferred from Germany. It is unlikely that the US military will want to abandon their well-equipped infrastructure.

The American military base has an image importance for the Polish ruling party "Law and Justice", which is in the disgrace of the EU. European officials perceive Poland as an outcast country that does not want to follow the generally accepted rules of the EU’s game, refuses to accommodate Muslim refugees in accordance with the plan of the European Commission. At the initiative of the European Commission, the possibility of depriving Poland of the right to vote in the European Council for unwillingness to abolish judicial reform, which strengthens the government's influence on the courts, is being considered. Trump gives a powerful signal to support Poland for spite of Europe. Since the Americans want to deploy their military base in Poland, it means they perceive it on an equal footing with such influential countries as Germany, and recognize its exclusivity in the EU, an alternative political course. Trump makes it clear that Euro-optimists like Merkel and Junker have exhausted the limit of his trust, and he will draw closer to conservatives like Duda.

Read the original text at 112.ua.

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