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Trump Visit to Poland Renewal of Frayed Ties

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Washington D.C. – President Donald Trump’s visit to Poland re-established a strong bilateral relationship that had soured during the previous U.S. administration, but the strategic objectives of the United States and Poland remain fundamentally different, Blaise Misztal, national security director at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said.

“It was an opportunity to re-establish strong U.S.-Polish ties which had soured after President Barack Obama canceled a missile defense site in 2009 that Poland had sought,” Misztal said.

“Both sides needed a win from this visit: the White House wanted to be received warmly in a European country and Poland wanted to counteract rumors of international isolation. Judging by these immediate and superficial goals, the trip was a success for both sides,” Misztal said.

“However, the strategic objectives for the United States and Poland are fundamentally different, which could lead to long-term disillusionment. Poland wants first and foremost a security guarantee against Russia, including the creation of the Three Seas Initiative, a new economic, energy, and infrastructure grouping of eastern European countries, supported by the United States. But despite speaking of the need to defend Western civilization, President Trump sees first and foremost commercial opportunities for U.S. companies and has done little to suggest interest in the sort of long-term U.S. military and political presence in the region that the Poles desire,” Misztal said. 

“Trump’s appearance in Warsaw provided little indication of how he would approach the critical meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, slated to happen on the sidelines of the G-20 summit,” Misztal said.

“On the one hand, Trump praised Poles for their history of resistance to the partition, invasion, and oppression of their country—all carried out by Russia. But when discussing the major threats facing the United States and Poland, Trump focused on terrorism, an area in which he has suggested U.S.-Russian cooperation is possible,” Misztal said. “It remains unclear whether Trump sees Putin as an invader and aggressor or a defender of Western civilization