WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he is considering moving about 2,000 additional U.S. troops into Poland from Germany or elsewhere in Europe.
But Trump cautioned during an Oval Office meeting Wednesday with Polish President Andrzej Duda that a final decision has not been made.
Trump said the United States has based tens of thousands of troops in Germany for a “long, long time” and that he probably would move a “certain number” of those personnel to Poland, “if we agree to do it.”
“We haven’t totally made up the decision,” he told reporters as he appeared with Duda in the Oval Office. “We haven’t finalized anything.”
Trump said Poland is interested in buying more than 30 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets from the U.S.
In honor of that possible purchase, the White House said two F-35 jets would briefly fly over the White House on Wednesday afternoon.
“They’re going to put on a very small show for us and we’re doing that because Poland has ordered 32 or 35 brand new F-35’s at the highest level,” Trump said.
U.S. officials said this week that Trump was expected to announce that he will send about 1,000 additional troops and a squadron of Reaper drones to Poland to aid its self-defense amid concerns about Russian military activity.
Polish leaders have lobbied for additional forces for months and had hoped for a permanent U.S. base they said could be called “Fort Trump.”
The leaders planned a joint signing ceremony their Rose Garden news conference.
Following the Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, the U.S. has again been increasing military activity in Europe in concert with NATO allies. That includes stationing four multinational battalion-size battlegroups in alliance members Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, led respectively by the U.S., Britain, Canada and Germany.
The Eastern European nations have reached out to the U.S. and NATO for greater protection, worrying that they might be the next target of Russia’s military advance.
The increase in U.S. forces in that region also reflects America’s new national defense strategy that declares great-power competition with China and Russia as a top priority.
Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.