NATO military exercises in Poland resumed after coronavirus crisis
NATO's military exercises resumed this month in Poland as Warsaw eyes hosting withdrawing U.S. troops based in Germany. President Donald Trump confirmed the withdrawal of some 9.500 soldiers on Monday. Approximately 6,000 U.S. and Polish soldiers are taking part in Defender-Europe 20 Plus drills, initially planned in May and billed as NATO's biggest war games in Europe since the Cold War, but scaled down and modified due to COVID-19 epidemic.
The revised exercises in Drawsko Pomorskie training ground in northern Poland tested the ability to conduct water-crossing and establishing a common intelligence operational picture.
Alongside Defender drills, Polish army held its regular joint fire Anakonda training with Polish President and Commander-in-Chief Andrzej Duda observing navy, air forces and ground forces training together in Ustka.
President Donald Trump said on Monday he would cut the number of U.S. troops in Germany to 25,000, faulting the close U.S. ally for failing to meet NATO's defense spending target and accusing it of taking advantage of America on trade.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has expressed hopes that some of the soldiers will be reassigned to Poland. "We are counting that this (U.S.) contingent in Poland will be growing. Let me remind you that five years ago we had only 500 soldiers and today there are close to 5,000 U.S. soldiers in Poland, so Poland's security is increasing," Morawiecki has said.
The reduction of about 9,500 troops would be a remarkable rebuke to one of the closest U.S. trading partners and could erode faith in a pillar of postwar European security: that U.S. forces would defend alliance members against Russian aggression.
The troop move is the latest twist in relations between Berlin and Washington that have often been strained during Trump's presidency. Trump has pressed Germany to raise defence spending and accused Berlin of being a "captive" of Russia due to its partial reliance on Russian energy.
Speaking to reporters, Trump accused Germany of being "delinquent" in its payments to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and vowed to stick with the plan unless Berlin changed course.
NATO in 2014 set a target that each of its 30 members should spend 2% of GDP on defense. Most, including Germany, do not, whereas Poland is among the countries which do.
"I deeply hope that as a result of the many talks that we had and that we have shown how a solid partner we are within NATO that part of the troops based today in Germany which are being removed by the United States will indeed come to Poland and will strengthen the eastern flank of NATO," Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said.
Źródło: TVN24 News in English, Reuters