Poland wants more US troops near Russia
A top Polish leader has called for the US to dramatically expand its troop presence in Europe, to deploy more forces along Russia’s borders and possibly to station nuclear weapons in Poland.
“Poland would be pleased if the Americans increased their presence in Europe from the current 100,000 soldiers up to 150,000 in the future due to Russia’s increasing aggressiveness,” Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said, in an interview published on Sunday by German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.
Kaczynski, who also heads Poland’s ruling political party, said 75,000 of Washington’s troops in Europe should be permanently stationed on NATO’s eastern flank, along borders with Russia. Those deployments would nearly match the approximately 80,000 US troops that the US had stationed in all of Europe before Moscow launched a military offensive against Ukraine in February.
Poland also would be “open” to having nuclear weapons stationed within its borders, Kaczynski said. He also complained to Welt am Sonntag that Germany “has a strong inclination toward Moscow” and must be willing to pay a high price to punish Russia for the Ukraine invasion.
Warsaw has called for tougher sanctions in response to the war, including a total EU ban on trade with Russia, and it sought last month to give MiG fighter jets to Ukraine. However, Poland also wanted to use the US as an intermediary for the aircraft transfer – an idea that Washington eventually rejected because it might provoke a wider war with Russia – possibly to avoid making itself a target for retaliation from Moscow.
Ironically, Kaczynski is calling for just the sort of steps that Russia has claimed would increase security tensions as NATO expanded eastward after the Cold War ended in 1991. The Western military alliance added former Soviet Republics and Warsaw Pact members to its membership ranks, then placed strategic weapons on Russia’s doorstep.
Such moves violated the principle of “indivisible security” – strengthening one side’s security at the expense of the other party, Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said days before the Ukraine invasion. Adding Ukraine to NATO, as has been proposed, would leave Russia “no space for us to retreat,” he said.