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US confirms Polish request for $2bn military base to deter Russia

American troops arrive at an airport in Swidwin, Poland. (AFP file photo)

The US State Department has confirmed reports about Poland’s offer of up to $2 billion for a permanent US military base within its borders, which Warsaw says will act as a deterrent against Russia.

The confirmation came on Monday after the proposal by Poland’s defense ministry was made public.

“This proposal outlines the clear and present need for a permanent US armored 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,” read the document, obtained by Polish news site Onet.

“Permanent US troops in Poland will send a clear message to Russia of US support for its Eastern European allies,” the Polish Defense Ministry said in the proposal.

The document even offers locations for a number of military bases, hospitals — including their capacities — and possible schools or even gyms for the families of personnel.

Warsaw confirmed later in the day that the document was genuine and had recently been delivered to the administration of US President Donald Trump and the US Congress.

Interestingly, however, the defense ministry said it had sent the request without consulting the foreign ministry or even the country’s president, Andrzej Duda.

Experts view the move as a growing discord within the Polish government, as some officials are wary of Moscow’s possible reactions.

The development comes about a year after Trump’s visit to Poland, where he spoke of a “special bond” between Warsaw and Washington.

Poland has long hosted armed forces from the US and other members of the NATO military alliance on a rotational basis.

The offer to pay all the costs would also fulfill Trump’s demand that NATO allies should spend at least 2 percent of their GDP for military purposes.

Russia ready to counter NATO expansion

Reacting to the news, Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Poland was free to cooperate with the US but Russia would not tolerate NATO expansion on its 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,” said Peskov, warning that the trend would “inevitably lead to counter-measures on the Russian side in order to balance the parity that breaks each time.”

NATO severed ties with Moscow in 2014 following the reintegration of the Crimean Peninsula to Russia in a referendum. The Western alliance has increasingly deployed forces and heavy military equipment to Russia’s Western borders ever since.

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