Leading from behind on its own troop movements, now, the Polish prime minister seemed to get ahead of the Obama administration on news of U.S. troop deployments to Poland as a response to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine. Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak told the Washington Post after a meeting with Sec. Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon:
Poland and the United States will announce next week the deployment of U.S. ground forces to Poland as part of an expansion of NATO presence in Central and Eastern Europe in response to events in Ukraine. That was the word from Poland’s defense minister, Tomasz Siemoniak, who visited The Post Friday after meeting with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon on Thursday.
Siemoniak said the decision has been made on a political level and that military planners are working out details. There will also be intensified cooperation in air defense, special forces, cyberdefense and other areas. Poland will play a leading regional role, “under U.S. patronage,” he said.
But the defense minister also said that any immediate NATO response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, while important, matter less than a long-term shift in the defense postures of Europe and America. The United States, having announced a “pivot” to Asia, needs to “re-pivot” to Europe, he said, and European countries that have cut back on defense spending need to reverse the trends.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday the door is open to larger U.S. military rotations through Poland, including ground troops, as the international standoff persists over Russian incursions into Ukraine.
Hagel briefed reporters at the Pentagon after a meeting with Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak, who came to Washington in search of more American soldiers, warplanes and support troops to help bolster security in a country nervously eyeing Russia’s expansionist behavior.
That seems odd, right? Either way, glad to see some seriousness about the situation and solidarity with Poland.
“We have to be alert to all possibilities,” he said. “The actions of the Russians over the last two months are not only irresponsible, with violating the territorial integrity of a sovereign nation, they’re dangerously irresponsible … [NATO’s role is to] think through, what are the possibilities, what could happen, so yes, based on past actions, we have to look at every possibility.”
Hagel said the U.S. has protested an encounter last weekend in which a Russian Su-24 Fencer attack jet buzzed the destroyer USS Donald Cook in the Black Sea. Previously, defense officials had said they’d had no contact with the Russians about it, but Hagel said commanders have made their displeasure quite clear.
“We didn’t tell ‘em we were happy,” he said.
Hey, maybe we should have stuck with missile defense in Eastern Europe when Obama came into office.
Rep. Gov. Mike Pence suggested in a speech Thursday we should ramp back up:
“And, with continued instability in the Middle East, Iran’s ongoing effort to develop long-range missiles and nuclear technology, and Putin’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in Ukraine, I believe we must take immediate steps to deploy a robust missile defense in Europe – especially Poland and the Czech Republic – to protect the interests of our NATO allies and the United States in the region.”