Poland is working towards a permanent US military presence on its territory

  • Mihai Turcanu
  • 30.5.2018 15:32

Poland's push for a massive, division-level, US military presence on its territory illustrates its concerns with the Russian revisionist, aggressive, and land-grabbing policies that have been employed in Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, and elsewhere. It also reflects an undeniable reality: for Eastern European countries facing this threat, the US is the only credible source of security.

On 28 May, Poland's Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak revealed that during his late April visit in Washington this year he held talks with US officials regarding the possibility of a permanent American presence in his country, to act as deterrence and reassurance against Russia's revisionism. Earlier, on 26 May, the news portal Onet published a Polish Defence Ministry's memorandum which outlines a detailed proposal for establishing a permanent presence of a US armoured division, while offering to put up to $2 billion to this end. Polish authorities have also discussed the issue with a Congress delegation led by US Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), which visited Poland last week. Supported by the SASC chair John McCain (R-Az.), Inhofe has introduced an amendment to the 2019 National Defence Authorization Act that would require the Secretary of Defence to report on the feasibility of permanent stationing of American forces in Poland.

 

Russia has condemned the move as not contributing to stability and security in Europe, and as an "expansionist step", in spite of the fact that it is based on Poland's sovereign decision

 

The international reaction has been, so far, mixed. While Lithuania has praised the initiative, Russia has condemned the move as not contributing to stability and security in Europe, and as an "expansionist step", in spite of the fact that it is based on Poland's sovereign decision. Western European countries, who have their own views and designs on European security, will probably not manifest enthusiasm, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel called, for instance on 28 May, for Europe to "take its fate in its own hands", warning that the times when the Europeans could rely on the United States are over. It goes without saying that the establishment of a US military base in Poland clearly contradicts this thesis. A similar response can be expected from the EU, as the head of the European Commission- Jean-Claude Juncker has recently stated that no security architecture was possible in Europe without Russia, and has been repeatedly quoted calling for the creation of an EU army. Moreover, Poland's willingness to co-finance the initiative will likely be criticized as giving in to Trump's demands that European NATO members share more of the security-related financial burden. This request has also been publicly criticized by Juncker at a time when Germany has announced it won't honour its written commitment in this regard. Incidentally or not, the news with regard to this Polish initiative comes also at a time when Poland is at odds with the EU on a number of fronts, signalling, for instance, that, when it comes to Iran, it could be willing to defend US interests within the EU. 

 

Russia's aggressive actions have carved a new security reality that is inconsistent with the “current and foreseeable security environment” stipulation of the NATO-Russia 1997 Founding Act

 

The main point of contention with regard to a possible US military presence in Poland would be the permanent character of its deployment, as well as its size. A US division comprises up to 20000 soldiers and hundreds of armoured vehicles. By comparison, NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence in Poland and the Baltics, which operates also includes American servicemen and operates under American military leadership in Poland, is only 4500 strong, and is stationed there on a rotational basis, as it is believed that otherwise, it would violate the provisions of the NATO-Russia 1997 Founding Act. This agreement states that NATO reiterates that in the current and foreseeable security environment, the Alliance will carry out its collective defence and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration, and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces. Poland's position, however, is that the Act is not legally binding. After 1997, Russia has refused to withdraw its troops from Transnistria (in accordance with the 199Istanbul agreement), it has permanently stationed troops in Belarus, it waged war and annexed territory from Georgia and Ukraine (by which it violated the Budapest 1994 memorandum, which Russia incidentally considers to be non-legally binding). These actions have rendered the above-quoted provision meaningless, as through these aggressive steps Russia (who undertook the same obligations as NATO) has itself changed the current and foreseeable security environment existing back in 1997. The same document adds that reinforcement may take place, when necessary, in the event of defence against a threat of aggression.

 

About author: Mihai Turcanu

Partners

Tento web používá k analýze návštěvnosti soubory cookie. Používáním tohoto webu s tím souhlasíte. Další informace