Russia seethes over Poland’s $2 billion proposal for U.S. military base
Russia threatened retaliation after news that Poland wants a permanent U.S. military base within its borders and is willing to pay up to $2 billion for the facility.
The proposal for an American base touched off a rhetorical firestorm between Moscow and Warsaw, as leaders from both sides traded threats and cast a fresh spotlight on simmering tensions in Eastern Europe.
U.S. officials had no immediate comment on the Polish plan, but Moscow seized the opportunity last week — on an otherwise quiet Memorial Day in Washington — to push back hard against potential attempts by the Trump administration to bolster the U.S. military presence in the region.
“These expansionist steps, certainly, result in counteractions of the Russian side to balance the parity which is violated every time this way,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow.
A key Russian senator went further, suggesting Poland would make itself a target if the plan for a permanent American base comes to fruition.
Poland will become “the object of a retaliatory strike,” said Vladimir Dzhabarov, who serves on the Russian Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee, according to Russian media.
State Department officials declined to comment, beyond saying U.S. officials were aware of the reports and monitoring the situation, which comes less than a year after President Trump visited Warsaw and spoke of a “special bond” between the U.S. and Poland.
Poland’s proposal also comes three months after Moscow deployed advanced nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad, a slice of Russia wedged between Poland and Lithuania.
Polish officials made no secret of their motivations, arguing that a permanent U.S. military presence in Poland would act as a check against Russia.
A document outlining the base proposal was first reported on and published by the Polish news site Onet.
The document cites Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, its support of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, its cyberattacks against the U.S. during the 2016 presidential election cycle, and other actions as proof that steps must be taken to push back against Moscow’s aggressive stance.
“Permanent U.S. troops in Poland will send a clear message to Russia of U.S. support for its Eastern European allies,” the Polish Defense Ministry said in the proposal.
“Poland’s commitment to provide significant support that may reach $1.5 billion - $2 billion by establishing joint military installations and provide for more flexible movement of U.S. forces,” the document said. “Together, the United States and Poland can build an even stronger bond — one which guarantees the safety, security and freedom of its people for generations to come.”
By offering to pay in full for the construction of the base, the Polish plan fits with President Trump’s call for NATO members — Poland has been a member since 1999 — to beef up their own financial contributions to the alliance.
The offer also comes at a moment when Warsaw appears to be cozying up to the Trump administration on other international matters, most notably the Iran nuclear deal.
Most European officials over the past several days have tried to find ways to keep the Obama-era nuclear deal alive as the U.S. eyes economic sanctions against European companies and others doing business with Tehran.
But Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz made headlines Monday by stating flatly that his country opposes any EU action that would weaken the impending American sanctions — a move that could drive a wedge between Poland and its European allies but also curry favor with the White House.