Polish Foreign Minister: US soldiers in Poland are the proper deterrent to Russia

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Polish Foreign Minister: US soldiers in Poland are the proper deterrent to Russia

Polish Foreign Minister: US soldiers in Poland are the proper deterrent to Russia

About this and much more in an exclusive interview with Jacek Czaputovich in the program &# 171; Results&# 187;

On the eve, another round of talks on the possibility of a permanent US military presence in Poland ended.

As of today, the price of the issue for Warsaw is $ 2 billion. This number of investments, for its part, was announced by the Polish leadership during the last round of negotiations. In theory, this amount could increase significantly, as negotiations with Poland on the creation of a military base are taking place against the background of reports that the Donald Trump administration is studying a plan that suggests that countries such as Germany, Japan and South Korea will have to pay the full cost of the upkeep American troops on their territory. They will also have to pay an extra 50 percent for the US to provide them with protection..

About why the American presence is important for Poland the author and host of the program “Nowadays. Results “Yulia Savchenko asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs of this country Jacek Czaputovich.

Question: Mr. Minister, thank you very much for this interview! Congratulations on the 70th anniversary of NATO! As far as I understand, the NATO Foreign Ministers’ meeting that you attended has just ended. Please tell us about the most significant results, the most important news and important decisions of this meeting.

Answer: It was a meeting of foreign ministers to mark NATO’s 70th anniversary. We celebrated the successes we have made over the past 70 years. NATO has succeeded in preventing major conflicts and guaranteeing peace in Europe. This is a great success.!

Poland joined NATO 20 years ago along with the Czech Republic and Hungary. It was a very important, historic decision for us. Thanks to NATO membership, both Poland and these countries feel truly safe.

Moreover, the present is the beginning of a new chapter in NATO history. We ministers understand that we still face difficult challenges. NATO was created in response to the threat posed by the Soviet Union. Today Russia is the main challenge for NATO. Its aggressive policy towards its neighbors, Georgia and Ukraine. We also see cases occurring in Western European countries. For example, the Skripals case – the use of chemical weapons; interference in the internal affairs of democratic countries. This is a real challenge! We see a renewed traditional military threat and new threats such as cyberattacks, hybrid attacks, terrorism. Therefore, we must find ways to respond to these challenges..

I also noticed that many ministers talked about a new adversary. This is China. Therefore, we must understand how to deal with China. It is not only a strong competitor in the economy, but also in the field of new technologies, which can become a threat to our security..

The expansion policy must continue. We must accept new members, in particular North Macedonia. NATO must be open to our partners.

We also discussed the Black Sea region and how we can guarantee freedom of navigation, especially in the Azov Sea. And, of course, we discussed the distribution of responsibilities. The United States has said this many times. Overall, defense spending in European NATO member states is increasing. Perhaps the growth rate is poor. Yes, there is still work to be done on this. Poland is among the countries that spend 2 percent on defense and we have already decided to increase our military budget to two and a half percent of GDP, which in the context of economic growth, which is more than 5 percent a year, is a significant amount that we will spend to modernize the army. We must be ready for new challenges, because Russia and China are developing modern and technically advanced weapons systems. We must be prepared for these challenges.

Question: Mr. Minister, you mentioned the modernization of your army, which, as far as I know, should be completed in 2026. Is this mainly your reaction to the threat from the East? You mentioned Russia several times. Are these actions proactive or is it time to do it? Are you trying to ensure readiness not only within the alliance, but also as a separate country?

Answer: We must strengthen our army. Increase the number of soldiers … We are doing this and trying to encourage people to join the armed forces. We do not currently have compulsory military service. It was still 10 years ago, but now we have a professional army, which includes about 100 thousand people. We would like to increase their number and now we are working on it..

In addition, we must modernize our army and have already signed an agreement with the United States on missiles. We are also discussing upgrading our Air Force. F-35. We are also discussing this with the United States, as well as other military equipment – helicopters and so on. This must be done.

Resources are always limited, but we must increase spending to strengthen our defense capabilities. Our capabilities would not be sufficient to ensure security, so the presence of our allies is critical. And, of course, the United States is a key country with over 4,000 soldiers in Poland. We talked about increasing this number a little and ensuring a permanent presence. We believe this will be the proper deterrent to Russia..

Polish Foreign Minister: US soldiers in Poland are the proper deterrent to Russia

Question: Now the so-called Fort Trump is being discussed – a potential military base, which was given such a name. This would mean a permanent United States military presence. As far as I understand, negotiations on this are very active, and Poland is ready to pay two billion dollars for the deployment of these troops? Please tell us at what stage these negotiations are.

Answer: We are indeed conducting such negotiations. Perhaps it will not be a new base in one place. American soldiers are already in many parts of Poland. These are different types of troops. Some are part of the NATO system in accordance with the concept of NATO Framework States.

When Secretary of State Michael Pompeo visited Poland, we met with American soldiers together. Parts of them are located very close to the Russian border. Seventy kilometers from the Kaliningrad region, 700 American troops are based, as well as British, Croatian and Romanian troops under the auspices of NATO..

In addition, we have US troops on a bilateral basis. These are tank units and the Air Force. Infrastructure improvements are required at different bases. We are, of course, ready to invest in infrastructure improvements to facilitate the service of American soldiers. We will invest our funds, but also NATO funds, because it is also NATO’s infrastructure. We are ready to contribute to the distribution of costs for the provision of American military personnel.

Question: There is now talk of a Cost Plus 50 initiative that would cost more American troops to serve in allied countries. So far, this scheme has only been applied in South Asia. It is our understanding that countries that have been privileged to host American soldiers will pay the cost of those soldiers’ military service, plus a fifty percent premium. It is not yet proposed to apply this approach in Central Europe, but if it affects you, you will be ready?

Answer: On the one hand, we understand that we must contribute to ensuring our security and bear the costs of maintaining the army. On the other hand, NATO has some rules. For example, there are 37,000 troops in Germany. How will this affect them? I think it is premature to discuss this issue. It’s okay to suggest that we should contribute. But just pay according to some rules … it needs to be discussed, it needs to be considered. I think there is a different way to solve this issue. We will cover some of the infrastructure costs, as we suggested. It is expensive.

Typically America paid for infrastructure in the countries where it deployed its troops. It was free. Then there is NATO. We need to find a formula. We understand the United States’ reasoning that we need to allocate the cost of American participation, but we need to work out a formula.

Question: Mr. Minister, now the INF Treaty is being widely discussed, which is falling apart before our very eyes. In Washington, they are beginning to talk about the fact that, due to the collapse of the INF Treaty, additional missiles may be deployed in Poland. How can you comment on this?

Answer: I believe that NATO should work out a common position. The position of the society must also be taken into account. For example, in Germany, the public is likely to oppose the deployment of additional troops because it will remind them of the 1980s, Pershing deployment and protests..

On the other hand, if there is such a need, a common solution must be worked out, and we must take decisive steps against the so-called Russian threat. Let’s see what decisions will be made. The secretary general says the response should be strong, but not symmetrical. This means that it is not necessary to place similar missiles. We need to take effective steps and we are ready to discuss.

Question: The dynamics of bilateral Russian-Polish relations over the past years has been very uneven. The latest news is that the Russian president was not invited to commemorate the outbreak of World War II. Do you think that Russia and Poland have entered an irreversible stage of hostility??

Answer: No, we have normal diplomatic relations. There are contacts at the level of deputy ministers and visits are being conducted. Diplomatic staff are negotiating. The historical commission is working. However, there are also differences in our positions. One of the positive aspects is that we interact in the Security Council, we hold consultations on these issues..

Yes, we criticize Russia for its aggressive policy towards Ukraine and support sanctions against Russia until it changes its policy, with which we disagree.

This creates problems for Russia. They would like to weaken the solidarity of the West regarding policy towards Russia.

There is one more problem. They are not returning our plane, which crashed in Smolensk. This is our property and we demand that it be returned, but Russia does not want to do this. There is a Council of Europe resolution on this issue. Yes, there are differences. With regard to commemorative events dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, the President of Poland decided to invite the countries that are NATO members and our partners. Russia played an important role in World War II, but not at that time. From Poland’s point of view, it was a joint invasion with Germany. On September 17, an act of aggression was committed and part of the Polish territory was captured. They entered the war later, after 2 years. They became allies in World War II, but that happened later. Now we are talking about the beginning of the war.

Of course, Germany invaded Poland at the start of World War II, but Germany acknowledged this fact and that it was a mistake. And Russia did not. They did not admit that they participated in the invasion together with Germany on that day, September 1, 1939, and were at that time an ally of Nazi Germany..

Question: Mr. Minister, I would like to return to the discussion of the anniversary of NATO and NATO itself. The alliance’s goal is to make NATO members stronger together. I spoke with your colleagues from the Baltic countries. They say that despite NATO membership, there are fears that Russia might do something. There are even people, not them, other people who believe that Russia may try to invade the territory of one of the Baltic states. I’ve heard this from various experts. I would like to ask you about a sense of security. Do you think that Russia poses a direct threat to you, or your membership in the alliance makes you feel safe and easy?

Answer: The alliance has a Fifth Article, which plays a deterrent function. We understand that we must modernize. We believe that Russia will react if it feels weak. As in Donbass, as in Crimea. This is the policy of Russia.

I understand why the Baltic states feel insecure. That is why we are in favor of sending a NATO contingent and therefore there are Polish troops in Latvia. This is for containment purposes and everyone is responsible for protecting these three countries..

Currently, we do not feel that Russia poses a direct military threat to us, because we know that we can respond appropriately, and our allies, in particular the United States, will also respond..

  • Yulia Savchenko

    International journalist with work experience in Russia, Central Asia, Great Britain and the USA. In the Russian service "Voices of America" – since 2010. Covers topics of politics, international relations, economics, culture. Author and host of the program «Present time. Outcomes»

    [email protected]

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