Wednesday

26th Sep 2018

Poland awaits Trump security promise

  • Trump to give "major" speech at symbolic Warsaw square (Photo: The White House)

Poland is angling for US security pledges when Donald Trump visits Warsaw and before he meets Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

“These aren’t some general talks about global security, we’ll speak about very concrete issues,” Polish president Andrzej Duda, who invited Trump, told Polish news agency PAP on Wednesday (5 July).

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  • Warsaw Uprising monument at Krasinski Square (Photo: Marcin Lachowicz)

Those included the future of US troops in Poland, an explicit pledge of Nato solidarity, installation of US anti-missile systems, and energy security, he said.

“I’m very happy that US army soldiers are with us [in Poland]. I hope there will be more”, he added.

“It’s possible that he [Trump] will also express himself expressis verbis on this issue [Nato solidarity],” Duda said.

Trump and his first lady land in Warsaw at 10PM local time on Wednesday.

He will talk to Duda for 25 minutes on Thursday morning. He will then join a mini-summit of 12 leaders from nearby states and give a speech at 1PM at a square in the Polish capital.

He will go at 3PM to the G20 summit in Germany, where he is to meet Russian president Vladimir Putin on Friday for the first time.

US forces

The US has sent 900 soldiers and pre-positioned tanks in Poland as part of Nato efforts to deter Russian aggression.

“We are hoping that their presence will be permanent … because this constitutes a security guarantee,” Duda’s spokesman, Krzysztof Lapinski, told Polish broadcaster TVN24 on Wednesday.

Trump declined to explicitly pledge allegiance to Nato joint defence at a summit in May.

His overt and alleged Russia-friendliness has also raised concern he might let Putin off the hook on invading Ukraine.

But Lapinski said: “Trump himself, since he took office, has not given any indications that he was contemplating a deal with Russia over our heads.”

General MacMaster, Trump’s security advisor, said last week Trump wanted “a more constructive relationship” with Putin.

But he said Trump’s second objective was “to deter Russia, right? Because the worse thing - nobody wants a major power war, right?”.

MacMaster said Trump would give a “major” speech on “the future of our transatlantic alliance” at the Krasinski Square in Warsaw.

The square was the epicentre of the Warsaw Uprising against Nazi occupation in 1944.

Poles also associate the events with the Soviet Army’s betrayal of Polish resistance fighters.

Putin meeting

Looking to Friday, the Kremlin said Putin would try to make Trump see Ukraine his way.

“This will be a good opportunity to reiterate Russia’s position that ... it is necessary to implement the Minsk deal and take steps to halt provocations that have been carried out by Ukraine’s armed forces,” Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Wednesday.

The Minsk agreement is an EU-brokered deal which says “foreign forces”, meaning Russian forces, must leave Ukraine.

But Russia denies having forces in Ukraine, except for Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.

Trump’s visit to Poland prompted the ruling Law and Justice party to claim a special status.

“We’re the leader of central Europe and that’s why president Trump is coming”, Duda said.

The Law and Justice party chief, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said in a speech last week that Trump had made Poland the “envy” of Europe.

The bombastic talk came amid EU criticism of Kaczynski’s crackdown on the independence of Polish courts and press.

It also came amid EU concern on US and Polish nationalism and populism.

The Law and Justice party planned to bus in hundreds of supporters for Trump’s speech on Thursday, Gazeta Wyborcza, a Polish newspaper, reported.

But a majority of Poles would see eye-to-eye with his right-wing views on Islam.

A poll by IBRiS for Polityka, a Polish weekly, out on Wednesday said 52.1 percent of Poles would rather leave the EU than be forced to take in refugees from Muslim states.

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If you were to judge events purely on the US media's headlines, you would be forgiven for wondering if the Polish government had anything to do with its recent controversial judicial reforms.

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