President Donald Trump said the U.S. is looking “very seriously” at establishing a permanent military base in Poland.
Polish President Andrzej Duda, eager to secure a commitment, said his country would not only help pay for the facility but name it “Fort Trump.”
Trump raised the possibility of a new base during a meeting Tuesday with Duda in the Oval Office, telling reporters the two would discuss the issue, and “we’re looking at it very seriously.”
“Poland is willing to make a very major contribution to the United States to come in and have a presence in Poland,” Trump added. “If they’re willing to do that, it’s something we will certainly talk about.”
At a press conference afterward, Duda said Poland would name the facility after Trump. Duda offered to pay “billions” of dollars to defray the costs of the base, Trump said.
The Polish leader has sought additional military support from the U.S., citing the risk posed by an emboldened and expansionist Russia. Duda has asked for a permanent U.S. military base in Poland to serve as a deterrent, and his government has said it would contribute financially to the establishment of such a facility.
After Russia seized Crimea during President Barack Obama’s administration, the U.S. and NATO allies established a constant, but fluctuating, rotation of troops in Poland under the European Reassurance Initiative. Poland has argued for a permanent, costlier plan, including a headquarters.
The construction of a base would risk upsetting Russian President Vladimir Putin even as Trump has gone to lengths to warm relations with the Kremlin.
The plan may meet opposition among European allies chagrined by Poland’s turn toward autocracy, including a revamping of the judiciary that critics say will remove judges who won’t take orders from politicians.
Poland says it already meets the NATO goal of spending 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense, a target that Trump has criticized other European allies for failing to meet.