US President Donald Trump’s decision to shift around 1,000 American troops from bases in Western Europe to Poland is a “very provocative move” that will only escalate tensions with Russia, says a former US diplomat and Senate policy adviser.
“This is a very provocative move with respect to Russia,” James Jatras said in an interview Saturday.
Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak announced on Friday that the US would deploy at least 1,000 soldiers in Poland.
Blaszczak made the remarks a day after his American counterpart, Mark Esper, said the Pentagon would be sending home about 6,400 troops from Germany and move nearly 5,600 to other NATO countries.
“Donald Trump has said all along he wanted to get the troops out of Germany. He sort of thinks of this, I guess, as some kind of punishment for Germany for not paying its fair share of NATO costs,” Jatras told Press TV.
“Originally he talked about bringing them back to the United States. I think the permanent machinery of government says they don't want them to come out of Europe, so instead they're going to go to Poland where, in some sense, I would say they're even more dangerous there than having them in Germany,” he noted.
Jatras said the move would violate the NATO-Russia Founding Act, a 1997 treaty that committed NATO not to permanently station “substantial combat forces” on the territories of the former Warsaw Pact states.
“The point of the matter is, there really is no security need for these forces in Europe,” the analyst said. “Security against whom? Against whom we're protecting Germany? Does Russia present a military threat to Germany? Of course not,” he added.
In addition, Jatras said, Washington is trying to exert pressure on Germany over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a massive project that would carry gas from Russia to Germany and central Europe.
“This is something Washington is dead set against, and I guess Washington's position is ‘well if you guys are going to be playing nice with the Russians and building this pipeline why are we then in your own country, trying to protect you from the same people that you're doing business with,’” he pointed out.
The Trump administration is anxious the project will boost Moscow’s economic and political leverage in Europe.
The US State Department has moved to expand economic penalties on investors and other business participants in Nord Stream 2, which is under construction by a company owned by the Russian gas giant Gazprom.
Furthermore, Jatras dismissed the notion that Washington is providing a “security blanket” for NATO’s eastern flank through these deployments, saying an increased military presence would only create additional security risk for Poland.
“In a case of war, they (US troops) would be absolutely no good except as a target,” he explained.
“The only thing that Poland is really doing about bringing these troops there is to ensure that if there were a period of heightened tension and the possibility of war, which I think these deployments raised the prospects of, all that means is that Poland has a big fat red target painted on its back,” he said.
“So this is very, very dangerous,” Jatras concluded. “It's stupid, in other words, but unfortunately, I don't think there's a whole lot of sanity in Washington these days.”
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