What Happened: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is staging a four-day trip to Hungary, Slovakia and Poland to discuss defense relations, the diversification of energy supplies and U.S.-led initiatives in the region, such as anti-corruption measures, Politico reported Feb. 11. After a visit to Hungary on Feb. 11, Pompeo will be in Slovakia on Feb. 12 before finishing his trip at a conference on Middle East security in Poland on Feb. 13-14.
Why It Matters: Pompeo's trip comes as relations between the United States and EU member states, such as Germany, have cooled down somewhat. Meanwhile, Washington has shown increasing interest in Central Europe amid uncertainty over the future of U.S.-Russian relations and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). The United States is also closely monitoring Chinese investment in the region, which has been slowly expanding in recent years.
Background: Many Central and Eastern European countries, particularly Poland, are making greater efforts to increase defense ties with the United States. Warsaw has already expressed interest in a permanent U.S. military base in Poland. During a visit to Hungary in November 2018, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry called on Budapest to reduce its energy dependence on Russia.