Polish President Andrzej Duda is visiting the United States later this week. His first stop will be Washington DC for a working visit with President Trump at the White House. Discussions between the two leaders are expected to revolve around energy security, defense, and economic issues. It is no secret that Duda, as well as a majority of Poles, want a larger contingent of US troops to be permanently stationed in their home country. Along with this, Poland has its sights set on increasing American investment, and ultimately on acquiring American natural gas as a new energy source.
Energy security is a matter of national importance for Poland. Through its time under the bootheel of Soviet occupation, the nation relied on Russia for most of its natural gas and oil. When the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union dissolved this did not change. Poland continues to be reliant on Russian gas and oil to meet its energy needs. Duda is anxious to find an alternative source for energy, and the hope is that US natural gas will be it. Duda’s second stop on his US trip will be Houston, Texas, home to a number of major US oil and natural gas corporations.
Defense will also be a major topic. While in Washington, the Polish leader is expected to announce that his country will be purchasing thirty-five F-35 Lightning II fighters. Duda will also likely push for US troops to be relocated to Poland from bases in Germany. US and Polish defense officials have been working on a deal to bring a large military base, and permanent US troop presence to Poland. Earlier this year, Polish media reported that the US was considering basing a US Army division headquarters in Poznan, a special operations base near Krakow and making the US Air Force detachment in Lask permanent.
The plan for an increased US presence in Poland has to be weighed against the potential of it escalating tensions with Russia. A balance needs to be found given the brittle geopolitical foundation in Eastern Europe.