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Polish Defense Minister: One NATO Battalion Can Stop 'Russian Aggression'

© AP Photo / Alik KepliczGerman army tanks are lined up after the NATO Noble Jump exercise on a training range near Swietoszow Zagan, Poland, Thursday, June 18, 2015
German army tanks are lined up after the NATO Noble Jump exercise on a training range near Swietoszow Zagan, Poland, Thursday, June 18, 2015 - Sputnik International
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Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz is convinced that one rotating battalion of NATO troops deployed on Polish territory would be sufficient to deter any Russian plans to invade the country, and to hold the Russians down long enough for reinforcements to arrive if it ever came to war.

Cited by the defense-related US newspaper Defense News, Macierewicz said that Warsaw would be requesting for a rotating battalion-plus sized force of NATO troops to be stationed in Poland at next month's upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw. The troops, the minister said, would be meant to deter any possible 'Russian aggression'. 

In this June 18, 2015,file photo flags wave in front of soldiers who take positions with their army vehicles during the NATO Noble Jump exercise on a training range near Swietoszow Zagan, Poland - Sputnik International
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Earlier, a spokesman for President Andrzej Duda indicated that Poland had given up on the idea of permanent US and NATO bases on its territory in favor of rotations.

Indicating that Poland is looking for a "battalion-plus" force, Macierewicz explained that "we have not defined what the 'plus' means when we talk about 'battalion-plus'. This is something that is currently being discussed." 

Defense News pointed out that in US military terminology, a battalion consists of 300-800 soldiers.

In any case, the defense minister had also said earlier this week that NATO's plans to station four battalions in Poland and the Baltic states had been finalized, and that only technical details are left to discuss. The minister didn't mince words in indicating that the deployment was aimed against Russia, saying that it was a "measured, proportionate" response to "the prospect of aggressive Russian action."

Poland's , European Union and NATO flags are lowered to half staff in front of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland - Sputnik International
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Meanwhile, in his own visit to Poland earlier this week, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg similarly emphasized that "there will be more NATO troops in Poland after the Warsaw summit, to send a clear signal that an attack on Poland will be considered an attack on the whole alliance." 

Cited by Defense News, Macierewicz explained that in the event of 'Russian aggression', the NATO battalion-sized force would look to slow down any hypothetical Russian invasion.

"These are just forward forces that are present, and together with the armies of the host countries should be able to stop the aggression for the time sufficient for the treaty to organize its structures and forces in order to defend its members," Macierewicz said. 

"From the military point of view, the problem so far has been that we have almost 100% certainty that in a situation of an aggression, NATO would lose the territory under attack and would have to reconquer it later," he added.

Macierewicz didn't make clear what exactly would cause the Russian leadership to effectively lose its mind and attack Poland, a NATO member, effectively marking the outbreak of World War III, but based on his earlier remarks, the minister's words on NATO deployment were pretty tame. 

A file photo of Poland’s Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz - Sputnik International
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For example, in April, the defense minister indicated that Poland plans to more than double the size of the country's army in the coming years. Earlier this year, the minister claimed that the 2010 air catastrophe over Smolensk, which resulted in the death of the Polish president and much of his staff, was actually an act of terror by the Russian government. Relatedly, even before his appointment to the post, Macierewicz suggested that Poland and Russia have actually been in a state of war ever since the 2010 plane crash.

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