According to a Polish defence ministry proposal, Warsaw is seeking a permanent US military presence and is willing to pay up to $2 billion towards such a goal. The defence ministry press office confirmed that the proposal is genuine and is not classified. It was drafted by senior ministry officials and a group of Polish military officers.
Apparently, the proposal was sent to Washington before first consulting with the foreign ministry and—more significantly—without the knowledge of the president, Andrzej Duda, who is also the country’s commander in chief.
Coming just over a month before NATO leaders gather in Brussels for a summit, the Polish initiative initially drew a measured response from Russia. The Russian President's Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov underlined that Poland had a sovereign right to establish a US military base on its territory, but stressed that Moscow was ready to react: "It depends what kind of base it will be. In general, when we noticed the gradual expansion of NATO's military infrastructure towards our borders, the immediate approach of NATO's military structure to our borders does not in any way contribute to security and stability on the continent, on the contrary, these expansionist actions, of course, inevitably lead to counter-measures on the Russian side in order to balance the parity that breaks each time", Peskov told reporters on 28 May.
Some European NATO allies may also view this proposal with scepticism, especially those like Germany and Italy that have sought improved relations with Russia.
“This proposal outlines the clear and present need for a permanent US armoured division deployed in Poland, Poland’s commitment to provide significant support that may reach $1.5-2 billion by establishing joint military installations and provide for more flexible movement of US forces”, the Polish defence ministry document states. It adds that Warsaw is committed “to share the burden of defence spending, make the decision more cost-effective for the US government and allay any concerns for Congress in uncertain budgetary times”.
Poland currently hosts US and NATO armed forces that are stationed in the country on a rotational basis, moving between Poland and the three Baltic states. Poland has also been modernising its military forces and in March signed the largest weapons deal in the country’s history: a $4.75 billion agreement with the US for the acquisition of Patriot soil-to-air missiles. Negotiations are ongoing for the eventual delivery of more Patriots, a 360º radar and low-cost missiles.
Poland is at the centre of an escalating arms race between NATO and Russia. The proposal for a permanent US military base in Poland is likely to further exacerbate tensions and take all parties further down the road towards a new Cold War.