The Poles are buying what the U.S. is selling: fears of Russian aggression and a $2 billion permanent U.S. military base on Polish soil to meet it.
WARSAW, POLAND — As a result of the ongoing increase in NATO expansionism, the perceived threat of the mere existence of Russia has reached a tipping point in Poland, thanks to near-constant anti-Russian rhetoric. As it turns out, Poles are losing sleep over their close proximity to Russia and are prepared to cough up $2 billion as a result, according to a proposal drafted by Poland’s Ministry of National Defense and delivered to the U.S. That same rhetoric is leading to a domino effect of Russian hysteria throughout numerous eastern European nations, including Latvia, Estonia, and other Baltic states.
The proposal, obtained by Polish news outlet Onet, calls for a permanent U.S. military presence on Polish soil, to which Poland would contribute up to $2 billion. Poland hopes the permanent presence would deter “Russia’s aggressive posture” by responding to a “clear and present need.”
Despite the fact that Russia has yet to make any formal threats to Poland, the proposal states, “Establishing such a force is necessary to present an unequivocal challenge and deterrence to Russia’s increasingly emboldened and dangerous posture that threatens Europe.” The report continues:
As shown in Ukraine, Russia is capable of effectively deploying hybrid warfare through its annexation of Crimea, cyberattacks on Ukrainian infrastructure, and fueling separatists. An increased U.S. permanent presence in Poland will give America the strategic flexibility it needs to confront and deter these threats.”
Tapping into Trump’s National Security Strategy Phobias
The proposal references U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy to back-up these claims. In it, Russian aggression is identified in both Georgia and Ukraine as a threat to U.S. and global stability. It also included proposed locations for military bases and hospitals, as well as facilities for soldiers’ families.
According to Reuters, the Kremlin expressed concern over Poland’s plans, saying “NATO’s expansion towards Russia’s borders undermined stability in Europe.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday:
When we see the gradual expansion of NATO military structures towards our borders…, this of course in no way creates security and stability on the continent.”
Judy Dempsey, nonresident senior fellow at Carnegie Europe, told VICE News that the proposal will likely be interpreted as a provocation by Russia, potentially leading the country to increase its military presence in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland. The proposal may also be unwelcome by European allies currently in favor of improving relations with Russia, including Italy and Germany.
Despite Russia’s opposition, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999, with many other former communist states following suit. Poland has sought closer ties with the U.S. ever since.
While U.S. troops have been present in Poland and in the surrounding area, they have only served there on a rotating basis. Poland has acted with increased urgency since Russia’s recent annexation of Crimea and support of rebel forces in Ukraine, with the largest U.S. commercial sale of lethal defensive weapons since 2014 in response to Russia’s supplying 30 percent of Europe’s gas supply.
In April 2010, Poland’s president was killed in a devastating plane crash. All 96 passengers on board — including the president’s wife, Poland’s central bank chief, and senior military figures — were killed. A 2011 government inquiry blamed the crash on both bad weather and pilot error, but many, including the late president’s twin brother, continue to suspect Kremlin sabotage.
Speaking of the proposal, a Pentagon spokesman, told Army Times, “This is the subject of private bilateral discussions between the U.S. and our NATO ally, Poland.”
Top Photo | U.S. Army soldiers are welcomed in Zagan, Poland, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. Czarek Sokolowski | AP
Emma Fiala is MPN’s Editorial Assistant and social media guru. She is also a documentary photographer, mom of two, and an independent journalist. Her stories have been featured on MintPress News, the Anti-Media, Media Roots, and Steemit. Find her on Twitter.