Poland is no stranger to being strategically significant, and this time its President Trump who is turning to the Eastern European nation to shore up everything from energy policy to foreign relations to his chances in the 2020 presidential race. Trump headed to Warsaw today to deliver a speech, meet with Polish and Croatian leadership, and convene with the Three Seas Initiative that seeks to loosen Russia’s grip on Balkan oil and gas trade. But he’s hoping that those appearances will resonate in Western Europe and back home, too, amidst widespread criticism of the Trump administration thus far. And if it’s any indication of the stakes for this meeting, the “promise” of a large, cheering audience was reportedly part of Poland’s invitation to President Trump.
Ostensibly, Trump is going to Europe this time to attend the G20 Summit in Hamburg. While there he will, finally, meet with Vladimir Putin face-to-face three years after Trump once tweeted that he hoped Putin would befriend him and on the heels of months of investigation into Russia’s role in Trump’s White House win. But his meeting with Polish leaders in Warsaw may be meant to ameliorate that charged encounter with Putin. “Even if he doesn’t mention Putin or Russia outright, just stepping foot in Poland sends a powerful statement,” Jim Carafano, a foreign policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, told the Associated Press.
So does meeting with the Three Seas Initiative, and discussing various possibilities for Europe to achieve greater energy independence. “Poland is in the middle of that energy corridor, so it makes so much sense that the president would go there and talk about energy policy,” explained Carafano. Not only could changes to energy policy mean loosening Russia’s grip on neighboring countries through oil and gas experts, increasing European energy independence could even have implications for the complicated relationship the U.K. and U.S. share with Saudi Arabia. There is also the possibility this visit and its outcomes could affect how U.S. states with heavy populations of Polish immigrants and their descendants vote in the next presidential election.
As for that promise of a cheering audience, majority politicians and their activist supporters have gone to the trouble of catering to Trump’s famous love of large crowds by bussing in Poles from outside Warsaw to hear Trump speak at Krasinski Square. The place where he will give his speech was carefully chosen, too — Krasinski Square is a historically significant site of a Polish uprising against the Nazis. With those measures in place, it’s now just a matter of whether or not Trump will avoid the sort of gaffs that marred his first European tour and if his trip will live up to the assertion that he will “do very well” in his tête-à-têtes this week.
(Via Associated Press)