Poland ready to build ‘permanent’ NATO bases
Warsaw is ready to build permanent military installations to house “light infantry units” of the US-led NATO bloc, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Thursday. The PM urged further NATO military buildup in Eastern Europe amid the ongoing Russian offensive in Ukraine.
“Permanent allied bases should be built in the countries of the eastern flank of NATO. Poland is ready to build such bases that would be provided for the permanent deployment of light infantry units,” he told the Strategic Ark forum in Warsaw.
Continuing NATO military buildup is the only way to “deter” Russia, the PM argued, calling for ramping up military aid for Ukraine as well. Warsaw has been among the most active combat suppliers to Kiev in the ongoing conflict, sending old Soviet-made tanks and other hardware for Ukrainian troops.
“Russia can only be deterred by our unity and military capabilities and hard sanctions; not by phone calls and conversations with Putin but by military aid to Ukraine and strengthening NATO’s eastern flank,” Morawiecki stressed.
The Polish PM also vowed to provide military support to Sweden and Finland should they come under attack during their NATO ascension process.
“I would like to clearly say that in the event of an attack on Sweden or Finland during their accession process to NATO, Poland will come to their aid,” Morawiecki stated.
Morawiecki’s rhetoric echoed remarks made earlier this month by his British counterpart, Boris Johnson, who vowed to come help the new potential NATO members as well. “What we are saying emphatically is in the event of a disaster or in the event of an attack upon Sweden, then the UK would come to the assistance of Sweden with whatever Sweden requested,” Johnson said.
The two Nordic nations lodged a formal membership bid on Wednesday, but they have already faced firm opposition from Ankara. Turkey, which is a major NATO country, claims that Sweden and Finland both harbor people it deems to be terrorists, namely members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has branded the countries “guesthouses” for terrorists.
The expansion of NATO and the alliance’s buildup in Eastern Europe was reinvigorated by the Russian offensive in Ukraine, launched in late February. Apart from Poland, other easternmost members of the bloc are seeking an increased military presence of the US-led bloc as well. Namely, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are reportedly pushing for the creation of a division-sized force of some 20,000 troops. The force would be on standby and ready for deployment into any of the nations should a threat arise.
Russia attacked the neighboring state following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.