Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed a new defense pact with Poland in Warsaw on Saturday. The treaty will pave the way for an increased US troop presence in the Eastern European country.
There are currently 4,500 US troops in Poland, the new agreement will increase that number to at least 5,500. Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said the number could quickly be increased to 20,000 if there was a big enough threat to justify such an increase.
“Today, my Administration signed a historic Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the Republic of Poland,” President Trump said in a statement released on Saturday. “The agreement will enhance our military cooperation and increase the United States military presence in Poland to further strengthen NATO deterrence, bolster European security, and help ensure democracy, freedom, and sovereignty.”
The signing of the agreement comes after the US announced its intention to withdraw about 12,000 troops from Germany. About half of the troops leaving Germany will be redeployed across Eastern Europe, with the 1,000 new US forces in Poland expected to come from this group.
The Trump administration was widely criticized for withdrawing troops from Germany, with critics calling the move a “gift” to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper defended the troop drawdown and said more troops are being moved closer to Russia’s borders to “deter” Moscow.