Thursday, May 31, 2018

Russia Expresses Concern Over U.S. Military Presence In Poland

Poland Wants the US Military Presence to Be Permanent and Is Ready to Pay

Moscow has expressed its concern over NATO’s military infrastructure that has been built adjacent to the Russian border. On May 28, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov declared that Russia is prepared to take appropriate measures in response. 

That statement was a reaction to Warsaw’s plans to host a permanent US military presence on its territory. Russian lawmakers point out that this would move Poland to the top of Russia’s list of military targets.

That deployment would breach the Russia-NATO Founding Act (1997), in which NATO pledged not to seek “additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces” inside Russia’s neighbors “in the current and foreseeable security environment.” It’s hardly a coincidence that the news went public before the NATO-Russia Council meeting scheduled for May 31.

According to Politico, Poland wants a US armored division permanently deployed on its soil. It is willing to pay $2 billion to help construct the installation. Five possible sites in northern Poland have been offered for consideration. The draft proposal comes just a little more than a month before a NATO summit that will be held July 11-12 in Brussels.
The issue of a permanent base had probably been previously discussed behind closed doors. According to the defense draft budget for fiscal 2019, the US Senate Armed Services Committee has already asked the defense secretary to assess the cost of a permanent presence in Poland.

America’s military, as well as the personnel of other NATO countries, are stationed in the country on a rotating basis but Warsaw doesn’t think that’s enough. Poland is one of just five bloc members that spend at least two percent of its national GDP on defense. The move dovetails with President Trump’s policy of making other nations pay for US protection. This could be just the beginning, with other countries eager for the American umbrella following suit and starting to negotiate by offering financial proposals that turn military-political agreements into commercial deals.

Meanwhile, work is in full swing to construct a new storage site and warehouse facility in Powidz , which will become a NATO hub for the Baltics and all of Northern Europe. A year ago, the US Army Europe established a new tactical headquarters in Poznan to control the rotating American forces in Eastern and Northern Europe. Poland and the Baltic States have reached an agreement to link Poland, Finland, and the Baltic States with the unified Trans-European Transport Network, which is crucial for the free movement of those forces. This “Rail Baltica,” stretching from Tallinn to Warsaw via Kaunas and Riga, is a key element of NATO’s infrastructure modernization.
According to Lieutenant General (ret.) Ben Hodges, former Commander of US Army Europe, “Any contingency we have to deal with, we’ll almost certainly have to come through Poland,” as that country has become the “center of the center of gravity” for the American military.

Poland will be increasing the size of its army by at least 50% in the coming years (from about 95,000 to 150,000). There are plans for three new brigades to be deployed on the eastern flank. No to be alarmist, but the fact that Poland has shifted its best military forces eastward, including its most modern tanks, has not gone unnoticed in Russia. 

The long-term modernization program provides for new air-defense systems, aircraft, ballistic missiles, submarines, self-propelled howitzers and around 1,200 drones, at least 1,000 of which are expected to be armed. The US Patriot PAC-3 will become the backbone of the Polish national air-defense system.

Meanwhile, the EU-Poland rift is growingPolexit is a possibility. Europe is in revolt against US domination. Because of the country’s ambitions and dreams of power, Warsaw is seeking its own piece of the global pie, dreaming of becoming a vertex of power in the erroneous belief that dancing to the US tune is the way to achieve this goal. It could end up breaking with Europe, only to find itself faced with a cold shoulder from the US when Poland is no longer needed. Then Warsaw would have to deal with Russia — a relationship it sacrificed for the sake of cozying up to America. In order to enjoy a high international standing one must have an independent foreign policy, not kowtow to other states, no matter how powerful they might be.

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